Thursday, April 2, 2009

The joy of discovering a new species to slaughter and consume

The New York Times food reviewer has discovered goat meat and he's positively giddy about it.
Mine is a tale of a recent convert.  Goat ... has been edging its way into yuppier climes ... click-clacking its cloven hooves up and down the coasts..
His exuberant language goes romping and leaping all over the article, like the playful baby goat whose barbecued flesh awakened him to the pleasures of this newfound delicacy.
My conversion moment came when I went to Cabrito and had the goat tacos ... suddenly, I was go go go goat.
Unknowing goat.  You thought you wanted to go on living your life.  You thought you were happy.  You feared the knife.  But little did you know your seared flesh would become the muse that inspired the New York Times reviewer to come up with gustatory gems like:
"Go go goat."  "Their chin hair is sometimes prodigious enough to carpet Montana."  "Think lamb but with a rustle in the bushes.  Think jungle lamb."
It goes without saying animals' highest calling is to satisfy human taste buds.  But the act of consumption is usually so uninspired.  God is great, God is good, pass the meat, do the dishes, watch the TV.  But the consumption of you was different, unknown baby goat.  Your flesh in the New York Times reviewer's mouth set off a veritable fireworks display of metaphors and word plays and literate sexual innuendoes.
I'd partaken of the bearded ruminant ... yielding a dish that evokes the saturated greenness of a meadow in springtime.  ... More recently in an effort at romantic overture, I mail-ordered some wonderfully flavorsome loin chops and ate them with my boyfriend amid candlelight and fresh flowers.  Did the goat yield the desired end?  Let a veil of decorous restraint fall over the proceedings forthwith, the better to mask a small storm of bleats and four cloven hooves, gently twitching.
There.  You see.  Not only did human hand slaughter you and human tongue savor your flesh, but a human mind exalted you by describing you in such ornate terms. "partaken of the bearded ruminant."  How did the Old Testament poets overlook that one?  Ah, but it's not all praise from the New York Times reviewerer.
Indeed, goats have always had a low reputation.
And the source of this low reputation?  Goats don't adequately serve the master species.  Their flesh lacks the appropriate tenderness.  Their bodies aren't well-suited for cosmetics testing.  They go about their own lives, without bothering to enhance the human experience at all.  "Their unappetizing visage is simultaneously dopey and satanic," the New York Times reviewer says in playful disgust.

But he redeems the goat!  The goat has its use after all.  It is worthy.  It is fit to be eaten by a party of festive Manhattanites in the Times reviewer's fourth floor apartment.   No more envying the pig and cow and chicken.  Now the goat too can join the pantheon of animals who offer up their flesh, unwillingly, it's true, but only because of their imperfect knowledge of the joy they'll bring to the humans who consume them.

It's not just the goats who come away from this article with reputations restored.  Once again humans have shown themselves to be endlessly complex.  Anybody who thought we could be narrowly defined as killers and consumers of prosaic cows, chickens and pigs had better think again.  There is far more to us than that!  We are forever discovering new animals to slaughter and consume.  The New YOrk Times reviewer is our guide.  Like the traveler who brings back tales from foreign lands, he has sampled the exotic. He has tasted new flesh and he joyously offers it up to his erudite and sophisticated New York Times readers.

He closes his article with a description of the dinner he served his guests in his fourth floor apartment.
Indeed, I recently threw a dinner party at which I served goat at every course ... At evening's end, as my wine-fueled guests prepared to scramble down the stairs of my four-flight walk-up, it was all I could do not to tie tiny bells around their necks.
Ah, I get it, goats wear bells.  His guests have turned into goats because of all the courses of goat meat they've eaten.  What better way to wrap up the article than this final taste of wit.  Like his dinner guests, his readers have been served up a feast -- of lavish metaphors, exuberant language, frisky wit.  Now it's time to go home and throw up.