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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Epicurious Etymology

While researching a trend I like to call "Meatrosexuality" (the rise of exotic quality meat connoisseurs), I found out that a few months ago an australian magazine held a competition to come up with a new name for kangaroo meat. The kangaroo meat industry has had success in other countries, but has had trouble convincing native australians that they just were not the cutest-wootest-little-things-in-the-world-yes-they-are!

The winning name, was australus. Which was of course, promptly rejected. I liked jumpmeat and kangarly. ("Whoah! Totally kangarly dude!")

Which leads us to the psychological linguistics of separating meat and animal. First of all, we call it meat instead of flesh. Let's run through some of the english usages: Beef for Cow. Pork for Pig. Veal for Calf. Mutton for Sheep. Venison for Deer. Etymology holds that a long time ago, Anglo-Saxon commoners (who tended the cattle) used the word 'cow', while the aristocratic Anglo-Normans (who did the eating) used the word 'beef.' It's not too far fetched to believe that commoners treating their cows as pets and aristocrats treating their beef as food have a lot to do with modern eating habits.

This leads into how we treat the emotional connection between was is edible, and what is inedible. Rarely (unless we're feeling hilarious) go to a restaurant and order a "Pig Sandwich" or a "Cow Pie." Chick-Fil-A has had a lot of success with being the champions for cows. Now, of course, what animals are getting left out of having special words here? Chickens. And other assorted poultry and fish of course. The closest thing for chickens is Pollo, but eating chickens has become so ingrained into our culture as pure "meat" that calling it a Chicken Sandwich really has no detrimental psychological effects. My guess: Cows/Deer/Pigs share mammalian features that we can see a bit of human in. Birds? Fish? Totally fucked up and alien to us. Let's eat them and farm 'em.

ASIAN NOTE: Just in case you wanted to know, dog meat in Korea is referred to as gaegogi. And the reason why cats aren't eaten more often is just that they don't have enough meat on them except for the thighs which make delicious meatballs.


Adrian said...

so who's asking you to research meat trends? wait, don't tell me i don't want to know.

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

i had my first elk dinner a few weekends ago, and it wasn't referred to as anything but elk. i was debating between the elk and the rabbit. but the elk seemed more exotic and new. shoulda stuck with the rabbit. and a few months ago i had a hankering for some 'gator. "tastes like chicken!"

El Gaffney said...

To me, meat is meat. And I'm not the only one: “The next time I have meat and mashed potatoes, I think I'll put a very large blob of potatoes on my plate with just a little piece of meat. And if someone asks me why I didn't get more meat, I'll just say, "Oh, you mean this?" and pull out a big piece of meat from inside the blob of potatoes, where I've hidden it. Good magic trick, huh?” -Jack Handy

Lachlan said...

Seth has been spending too much time in Latin America.

Spam is 'meat'... but it's not meat.

Anonymous said...

I say briefly: Best! Useful information. Good job guys.