Monday, March 2, 2009

Whale Stranding


Not to be ghoulish, but seeing on the news that many good folk flocked to assist in rescuing stranded pilot whales on nearby King Island set me to musing on how attitudes have changed: I cannot imagine that even a hundred years ago any such effort would have been expended; and back in earlier days, the sudden arrival of a plentiful supply of Lenten fare would have been cause for thanksgiving to the Almighty!

I really ought restrain myself and not preach to the choir by drawing the approved conservative conclusion that greenies and fellow-travellers do not however rush to save the unborn under threat - that would be facile.

I also recall that one of the Icelandic Sagas relates how a Norseman, wavering between the new Christian religion and the old paganism, gave thanks to Thor when a whale stranded itself, providing him with a convenient repast of cetacean steak - but when he fell sick soon after, his (slightly) more Christian neighbours tut-tutted, pointing out that "clearly" said fishy banquet had been instead a deceit of the Devil, permitted by the Lord that the backslider be ensnared and punished, hoist by his own petard.  It is so very easy to draw whatsoever conclusions we desire from all manner of incidents.

In any case, it is curious how emotional we get about such gentle giants of the sea: we don't seem to feel the same about the porcine, ovine and bovine inhabitants of our farms, but do about the feline and canine residents of our homes.  And what is the way we express our horror at other people whom we find scarily different from us in their ways?  By telling shocking tales of how they don't pet, but eat sundry creatures (such as equine denizens of la belle France).

4 comments:

Quasi Seminarian said...

I'll have you know that horse meat tastes quite nice and that those with a head of them in England after the war could fill their belly quite happily.

Joshua said...

Yes, I must say I see no reason not to dine on horseflesh.

Louise said...

Except that it sounds about as appetising as eating dog. Blech!

Still... I guess if I were starving.

Joshua said...

According to an old edition of Larousse Gastronomique, horseflesh is quite excellent and can be prepared in the same manner as beef; while whalemeat tastes rather like beef that has been boiled in water wherein a none-too-fresh fish was washed!