Thursday, May 27, 2010

biology x food = freak out (WARNING to squeamish re: animals as food--skip this!)

Some images capture starkly the connection between biology and food (two things I love, which are inextricably connected) in ways that are disturbing. To me.


Such is the case for the image (far, far) below, found at It's far, far below to protect those who wish to avoid seeing a pretty frank animal-as-food photograph.

This image also connects with other parts of my brain, including man-as-omnivore, sustainable living (witness NOT wasting animal parts), photography (clean, minimalist black and white 50's-style I am drawn to, crazy about, tho' subject puts me on instant diet), and my latent leanings toward vegetarianism.

And the part of me that lead to becoming a biologist--I feel a great empathy toward non-human animals.

And plants.

Trust me, I am the WORST plant thinner ever. I find it very difficult to, for example, pluck out baby beet plants who (oops) just look so psyched to LIVE. Who am I to kill them just because I want 20 big beets versus 1000 tiny scrunched up red string-roots?

But I also have a great regard for the very basic living involved in an independent, sustainable human lifestyle, which includes many who are not vegetarians, and either raise and slaughter their own meat or know the people who do.

Anyhow, this came up 'cause a friend is in Paris and he posted today that he finally ate "tete de veau" and was very grateful for the abundance of wine. Of course I had to look it up.

For some strange reason, no French was in my brain that moment (maybe the lack of circumflex in tete de veau?) and the way I pronounced it (in my head) was "teh-teh" de veau. Odd.

Which left me totally unprepared for:


To make it all the more bizarre, I've been on this Julia Childs "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" kick, 3 recipes in the last 3 weeks or so. LOVE Julia. Watched her (repeat) cooking shows when I was a kid. I was a total non-cook but I just loved her.

However, watching the movie Julie and Julia, I also knew that I would NEVER make the lobster dish. So not boiling a live creature. Won't even consider it. (No judgment on anyone else.)

But I can see Julia making tete de veau, and she probably has. Multiple times. With gusto.

Anyhow, this photograph just captured so well the uncomfortable intersection of different parts of my knowledge/experience/education/emotions/aesthetic that are obviously not super resolved.

Otherwise, I'd have a clear feeling about this image (amazing, fascinating, horrifying) vs. an inarticulate "" response.

I guess that means the emotional box I'd check to describe my feelings (amazed? fascinated? horrified?) about this image is:  all of the above.


P.S. Will be in non-computer-mode for next 3-ish days so won't post during that time. Passez un bon week-end!


  1. Really enjoyed Julie and Julia. The first recipe, potato and leek soup, is amazingly satisfying for something so simple. My mother refused to serve traditional Easter dinner after the new butcher did business in our front yard with our bottle-fed male lambs. I think more people need to be in touch with the food they eat. What will you do when your chickens stop laying eggs?

  2. Oh, man! WHY did I keep scrolling down (and down, and down)? You did warn me, I know, it's my own fault. I (regular eater of meat and supporter of not wasting animal parts), find this image very confronting and the black/whiteness of the picture just adds to the impact. It's also disturbing yet I am still curious... Ugh!

    My daughters found out this week where gelatine comes from, and therefore what makes up..jelly beans, snake lollies, marshmallows and all other things gelatinous. Personally, I am veering towards becoming ok with that, (it's using up more of the animal, right), but for their forming little minds this was way too much shock to be used in the same sentence as candy.

  3. @ Nature ID 1) I'll have to try that soup for sure. 2) I don't blame your mom. A thing folks around here do is raise animals for 4H and then buy each other's animals so you aren't actually eating Fuzzy or Baby Cow-y. Another device is I had an uncle who bought a calf to raise and then butcher for food and named him Little Mac. To remind everyone when he grows up, he'll be Big Mac... 3) The chickens will pretty much be professional bug eaters when they're done laying.
    @ Christine Excellent point re: gelatin. I stopped eating jello for YEARS when I learned the origin. But, yes, it's also part (at least in theory) of using the whole animal. That picture addresses so many issues! =)


Cool people write inside rectangles....