What Dogs and Cats Taste Like
San Francisco residents are delivering a petition today to the South Korean consulate, asking that country's residents to stop eating dogs and cats.
I thought I'd draw on personal experience to tell you what you're asking them to give up.
I had roast cat in Hong Kong. It was about 9 a.m. I was wandering around a back street as a tourist when I saw a skinless kitty hanging in the window from a hook beside the roast chickens and ducks.
I had already had breakfast, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I'm allergic to cats; they have caused me a lot of grief over the years. Revenge!
I sat at a stool and, not speaking Cantonese, pointed at the cat. A burly guy behind the counter pulled it off the hook, wielded a big butcher knife, and whack! -- chopped it in half. Then, whack! whack! whack! whack! -- he chopped it roughly into pieces, tossed them atop a bowl of rice, squirted a little sweet soy sauce on it, and placed it in front of me. While I contemplated it, he returned the other half of the cat to the hook. I got the bottom half, which I guess was better, and the cat head in the window also served as a better advertisement.
So how was the cat? Tough and stringy. This makes sense, as cats are mostly muscle, except for pampered housecats, and even in Hong Kong people probably don't eat those except in times of famine. It wasn't very flavorful; it reminded me of three-day-old white-meat turkey. Bad kitty.
People compare everything to chicken because modern commercial chicken breast has so little flavor. I hate to reach for that cliché, but it's not unfair here; you might take a closer look the next time you have kung pao chicken.
While I sampled cat on purpose, dog was an accident. I love dogs, not in the same way I love sushi, and even though I'm an adventurous eater -- ask me about green-bottomed ant bottoms sometime -- I have had chances to order it, but wouldn't.
However, I was in Banaue in the Philippines, a transfer point for jeepneys. I had just gotten off one and had about an hour to kill. The waiting station was a small restaurant where everybody was eating some sort of dark brown stew. It smelled good, so I pointed at it and got a bowl.
I was about halfway through it when a man came over and said, "Do you know what it is that you are eating?" When I said no, he said. "Bow. Bow wow. Bow wow wow."
I sat upright, and everyone laughed. Always pleased to provide entertainment abroad, I looked back at my bowl. That doggie was already gone, and I was still hungry. So I had some more.
Dog, I must say, is a lot tastier than cat, although the means of cooking could have something to do with it. It's a gamy, dark meat, but it was also wonderfully tender, like rabbit, and it makes a great earthy, meaty, satisfying stew. I'm probably not going to have it again. But I won't say I didn't enjoy it.