Here's how a typical "Hey, are you going to eat your dog?" conversation goes, my thoughts are in parentheses:
Dude (it's usually a guy): Ha! Cute dog you got there, is he for dinner? Ha!
Me: Ah no (are you serious? yeah, right, I'm actually going to Vons to get a bottle of KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce, and this pooch going on the grill!)
Me: I'm from Canada. (And no, I don't salivate when I see the Lost Dog and Cat signs)
Dude : But aren't you from China?
Me: Okay, I'll play. Yes they eat dogs in Northern China. It's considered a winter meat, and they eat it to keep warm.
Dude : Gross.
Me: Ever see a chicken get processed? (Whatevs...Ask how they make McNuggets and then come back to me and tell me what's gross)
Victor, Lois, Clark, Trixie, Jezebel, JoJo and Frankie
Seven dogs have been my best friends in the last two decades, and no I never pictured them as entrées. As far as what has graced my plate, there has been snakes, pigeons, crickets, ants, frogs, rabbits and I think I might have had french fries cooked in horse fat when I was in France. In the decades that I have traveled through Asia, I have never been offered a dog or cat as a meal. In my travels, I have come to the conclusion that having a fur coat is an advantage over feathers in most countries.
"Growing up, I thought kids asking me if I have eaten dogs was just a mean playground joke. When asked that question as an adult, I just feel insulted." - Danh
No matter how "Western" I look and sound, when I walk my dog, I will get "hey you aren't going to eat that dog are you?" It is a rite of passage for every Asian to be asked at least once if they are going to eat their pet. When I was younger I was fed up with the stereotyping, and I was tired of the baggage that traveled with me because of my ethnic heritage. There were times when I just wanted to scream out "OH REALLY?" In the last few years, I have since mellowed out; more likely due to the "been there done that" weariness and I also learned it was how I defined myself, not how some people pigeon holed me. Now when someone does make an assumption about my eating habits and Kung Fu fighting skills, my look is more bemused than angry. After they see the scrunched eyebrows and "you really said that" look, they usually change the subject to how the Lakers are doing in the playoffs.
Every culture has different ways of viewing animals. In Asia, the dog is food, although not as popular, because of spreading Western culture. Just recently the Chinese government has put forth to the legislation, a first draft proposal to protect animal maltreatment, which includes eating dogs. As China becomes more Westernized, so does the popularity of having the dog as a pet, which in then changes the mindset of the purpose of the dog from food to companion. In our Western culture we eat cows, pigs and chickens; we see them as food and they also play a large part in our popular culture. Donald Duck can sing and dance, but he sure is tasty a l'Orange.
I found the Long Beach Aquarium an example of that Western duality, since they serve Fish Tacos and Tuna Sandwiches in their Cafe Scuba; not only can you view the fish, you can have a meal of them a few yards away. Nothing whets an appetite like watching your lunch float by in a tank. Charlie Tuna would be proud.
Okay, I Get the Joke
Comments from a Facebook post on my wall about "I Wok the Dog":
SRG: What time is dinner?
Ophelia: you people are...proving my point. yeesh.
MN: You told them that you only eat your cat, right?
Ophelia: What cat?
I am not as dour or humorless as I sound, I do laugh and elbow someone when I think I made a joke; but I avoid making jokes about other cultures because I know how insensitive it is from my personal experience. If I wasn't aware of how cultural stereotyping offended people, I would be friendless and blogging about how our President's long form birth certificate is made of Keebler cookies and that Elvis is my mailman.
We are tightly packed together here in Los Angeles, and the last thing we need is to put up fences made of racist jokes and cultural misconceptions. Our neighbors here in Los Angeles speak over 244 languages and because of that we have a wonderful mix of culture and history; it is to be celebrated and not made into racist stereotypical jokes that were never funny in the first place. Therefore I hereby declare that the Giants and the Dodgers fans can be friends, and no, my best friend is not my next meal.
Image:Frankie the Dog (Frankie was not harmed other than having to wear the Cone of Shame)