Today I ate something that, several years ago, I swore I would never eat. Sara, Alisa, and I went to a restaurant and ordered boshintang (보신탕). One unique thing about boshintang is its primary ingredient… dog meat.
While dog meat is part of Korean cuisine, it is a very small part. There are many Koreans who won’t eat it for the same reasons Westerners won’t… they love their pets. In fact, when I told my boss I had eaten some, she was horrified. She couldn’t believe I would want to eat a dog! But, there are those who don’t mind so much and, in fact, quite like the greasy, gamy meat.
Now, for those of you who think eating dog is cruel and the people who do it are sadistic animal abusers…. you have no freaking idea. It’s something you really have to experience to believe, something no words can adequately describe… but, for your sake, I will do my best. Prepare yourself…
The Tale of Kip: a Tragedy
You know those seafood restaurants where you go in, approach the tank, and look at the imprisoned fish swimming around in order to pick the perfect one for your consumption? Where you judge size, plumpness, vigor, and overall tasty-lookingness? This was kind of like that. Except with puppies.
Upon entering the restaurant, my friends and I were assailed by the smells and sounds of pure, abject terror. There were puppies in cages, frantically clawing in a vain attempt to escape. There were raucous, blood-thirsty patrons waving haunches and limbs with sadistic abandon. And, in the back, there lurked a butcher with a heavy brow and embers for eyes; wielding a cleaver with sickening, malicious accuracy. Ladies and gentlemen, this here was the real deal! My friends and I mustered our courage and regained our composure, cause we ain’t no yellow-bellies and that there’s the God’s honest truth!
It was time to pick our dinner.
Kip, moments before I picked him.
Now, as you know, eating dogs is a practice in cruelty so, naturally, we had some expectations to live up to. That being the case; my friends, the restaurant staff, other patrons, and I engaged in a bit of dog-fighting. My pooch got pretty messed up, but he managed to rip my friend’s dog to shreds, so I won a nice wad of cash. Atta’ boy, Kip!
Unfortunately, winning the fight doesn’t improve the dogs’ chances of survival, so I killed Kip then and there so he didn’t get any funny ideas.
Finally, I had to prepare man’s best friend for my tummy. The restaurant has the perfect room for this, a nice cave carved into a nearby cliff. There was a fire already roaring, mats of woven reed to rest on, and the skins of countless furry critters to adorn ourselves with. Oh, and roasting spits.
It was slightly reminiscent of roasting s’mores, but with a great deal more blood and the sound of yelping puppies in the background. It was quite nice. With Kip sizzling over an open flame and the sounds of canine despair caressing my eardrums, I felt like I had returned to a primal state of being… and it was wonderful.
After a short while Kip started getting a little crispy, so I took him off the flames and took a big, messy bite. He… tasted… MAGNIFICENT. I knew then and there I would eat every dog I encountered for the rest of my days. Who would’a thunk it? Yay for puppy consumption!
So it didn’t happen like that.
Not even close.
Actually that entire story was a lie.
I didn’t choose the dog for my meal. I didn’t see it alive first. I didn’t take part in a dog fight. I didn’t kill the dog myself, and I didn’t roast it over the open flame.
It was a restaurant like any other, and I ate a meal much like any other… just with a different type of meat. And it tasted pretty darn good! The restaurant was on a small side street a minute’s walk from my apartment. It was owned by a lively elderly Korean couple who were quite set on making sure we had the perfect boshintang experience! The man came and politely made sure we had all the sides we needed, using sign language and small amounts of Korean to tell us how to eat certain things. Then… his wife entered the fray. One by one, she worked her way around the table; wresting away our chopsticks, adding scoops of spices to our soups, throwing bones on the table, and enunciating each action with a brisk, “CHA!” reminiscent of Emeril. She was hilarious. While she was showing me how to eat my dish she loaded up a bite on my chopsticks and shoved it into my mouth. She did the same thing to Sara, but it was so hot that Sara had to spit it out, to the great amusement of all present. It was definitely one of the most entertaining meals I’ve eaten recently!
Does this mean that, when I eventually get a dog of my own, Deus will have to watch his back constantly as I roam the halls with fork and knife in hand? Absolutely not.
PUPPY PICTURE OBTAINED FROM: The Daily Puppy, which is a great source for cute puppy pictures… and raw material for horrible edits on cute puppy pictures!
Fun note: I had the description for Kip written before I saw the picture. I typed in “ear dog cute” in Google and Kip was the second puppy to pop up! Destiny…