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Sorry, we’re out of dog meat

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July 12 -13, 2008 edition of China Daily

July 12 -13, 2008 edition of China Daily

There will be no dog meat in Beijing restaurants during the Olympics.

According to this weekend’s edition of China Daily (the country’s English language newspaper), the city’s 112 officially designated Olympic restaurants have been banned from selling dog meat during the Olympics.

The paper continues that non-designated restaurants have also been encouraged not to serve the meat.

“Dog meat sales are being suspended as a mark of respect for foreigners and people from ethnic groups,” an anonymous official with the administration was quoted as saying by Beijing Daily on Friday.

Giving up cultural identity to please foreigners

Personally, I think it’s sad that the Chinese are bending over backwards to please their international guests. I wish they were as sensitive about international public opinion when it comes to Zimbabwe or Sudan.

If dog meat is a part of Chinese culture and cuisine, then why pretend that it isn’t to please the foreigners?

Why don’t the Chinese just say “yes, some people in our country do eat dog meat – if you don’t like it, you don’t have to order it.”

After all, restaurants in China serve many other things that are “hard to stomach” for Westerners: jellyfish, camel’s feet, shark fin soup or chicken claws. Yet all of these are considered delicacies in China.

Maybe dog meat touches a sensitive spot in Westerners. I remember that coming across a dog meat butcher in Vietnam definitely came as a mild shock to me when I was there a few weeks ago.

But still: if it’s part of their culture, why should they get rid of it just to please me?

WordPress is blocked in China. Therefore I was only able to upload this post after having left the country.

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Written by Thorsten

July 13, 2008 at 8:31 am

Dinner doggie-style

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Dog meat butcher I’m a vegetarian. I don’t eat meat. And though I don’t like the smell of raw meat at butcher shops, it usually doesn’t bother me very much.

But when I looked around an open-air market in Hanoi today, I did get slightly nauseous in one corner of the market. I came across something that I hadn’t anticipated: dog butchers.

Nothing for the faint-hearted

There were about three or four stalls selling dog meat. All of the animals had been skinned and grilled. Some were lighter in colour, others reddish brown and crispy looking.chopping up dog meat

As I walked by, a Vietnamese woman was buying some dog meat. I guess she didn’t want the whole animal, because all of a sudden, the butcher swung her big knife and hacked the dog that lay in front of her in two. WHACK!

And CHOP, WHACK, CHOP, the butcher continued her mad frenzy. In the end, she had chopped the grilled animal to pieces the size of goulash.

The butcher put everything in a bag, the Vietnamese housewife took it and walked away happily.

Dining with the dogs

I knew that there are dog restaurants in a northern suburb of Hanoi. But I hadn’t expected to stumble upon grilled dogs at the market stalls just outside my hotel. After all, it’s an upmarket hotel in downtown Hanoi.

But I suppose not many of the hotel’s international guests venture into this Vietnamese market – even though it’s just a few steps from the hotel.

It must be an acquired taste

The smell at the dog meat market stalls was strange. Hard to describe. Was it the smell, the sight or the idea of the dead dogs that made me feel sick?

The Vietnamese clearly aren’t as sensitive. For them, dog is just as common a dish as pork, beef or chicken.

A tourist from New Zealand, whom I talked to a few days ago, said he had tried dog meat at one of the city’s dog meat restaurants. He said he liked the taste.

dog meat butcher

I don’t think I could have eaten dog meat. Even if I wasn’t a vegetarian, dog is where I’d draw the line. Seeing and smelling those grilled dogs at the market made that very clear to me.

In Vietnam, it’s mostly men who will eat dog. Women don’t seem to enjoy it as much. Eating dog is associated with aggressiveness.

But even the Vietnamese men will not eat dog meat at the beginning of the lunar month. That’s considered bad luck.

So At the beginning of every lunar month, Hanoi’s dog meat restaurants stay closed.

And the ladies selling grilled dog at the street market have a few days off. To walk the dog?

Written by Thorsten

June 2, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Why I Love Little old Ladies

with 2 comments

I got my hair cut today, and just as I stepped out the door of the store, a little old lady walked by on the sidewalk with her lapdog.

My opening the door and stepping out of the barbershop rather quickly must have startled the dog.

Maybe it was just surprised to see that humans can move at a faster pace than its owner and her peer group.

“My little mouse…”

So the lady bends down to her startled dog and says in the sweetest Cologne dialect: “Keine Angst, mein Mäuschen, der tut dir nichts. Der ist nur so stürmisch!” (“Don’t be frightened, my little mouse. He won’t hurt you. He’s just tempestuous!”)

Or was she actually talking to me and describing her dog?

Written by Thorsten

May 21, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Posted in observations

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