"Maybe the whole foodie counter-culture is a reaction to the oppression of just a few things to eat and big supermarkets where you find everywhere the same thing," Dufour said. "For me, eating other animals, including horses, is a responsible thing to do. If you like meat, it's trying to find other sources, meat that is already around that would otherwise go to waste." Because it's not raised for human consumption, the meat sometimes poses a health riskbut, he says, so does conventionally raised beef and poultry. He went on, "It's more like recycling a dead animal. We can't start burying horses with tombstones every time." For example, he buys blue sharks caught during sportfishing tournaments from the piers at Montauk. The meatwhich would otherwise get trashedis oily, funky, and fatty, he said, and when you smoke it and brush it with maple syrup it is beautiful.
Dufour wants to feed the people who want something different. At his next restaurant, M. Wells Steakhouse, which is set to open in June, he envisions a "meat temple," where he will serve a zoo's worth of birds and beasts, and forgotten cuts of familiar animals.
"When I call my butcher I ask for whatever people don't want, what's cheap, and make it nice," he said. His plans call for a wood-fire grill, next to a concrete trough filled with lobsters, trout, sea urchins. "Everything crawling and live," he said. "I grab and butcher them real quick and grill them really quickly." From time to time, he hopes to have exotic meats like rattlesnake and lion, which he imagines serving in a black peppercorn sauce. "I would have loved to do horse," he said.
As the foodie movement asserts itself, its conflicts with animal-rights and environmental groups, and with established notions of what constitutes "American" eating, are becoming starker. Broadening, though a good survival value generally, may sometimes fail in its particulars: the horse could be contaminated, the whale might be endangered. (In Iceland, it had not even occurred to me to ask the species, which was dumbthough asking would've been so rude.) But the outrage over foodie eating often strikes me as sentimental. Most people hold back some species or another from consideration as food, and the reasons can seem arbitrary. One former Hump regular I spoke with said he refuses to eat anything too smart, but, when it comes to pigs, he just avoids thinking about it, because he loves eating them so much. "In a perfect world, I'd be a vegetarian," he said. Diana Reiss, a leading cetacean researcher and the author of "The Dolphin in the Mirror: Exploring Dolphin Minds and Saving Dolphin Lives," strenuously objects to cetaceans being used for food, on the basis of their intelligence and social awareness, but acknowledges that this line of argument is slippery, especially since she herself still eats poultry (bothered, she gave up red meat). "Different cultures have different accepted animals to eat," she says. "How do we grapple with that?" When I told Vidor, a snake- blood-drinker and a scorpion-eater who closed one of his restaurants after admitting to serving an endangered mammal, that I had eaten dog in Vietnam, he looked appalled. "See, I wouldn't eat dog," he said, withdrawing self-protectively, as if I might bite his hand. Maybe the only way to eat meat and not be a hypocrite is to eat everything, from the sea squirts to the whale.
Excerpted from Anything That Moves by Dana Goodyear. Copyright © 2013 by Dana Goodyear. Excerpted by permission of Riverhead Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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