Last year, two chefs made the rounds of the U.S. and happened to meet during a layover at LAX. The Korean chef looking at the calloused hands of the other and the book the man was reading and instantly recognized a fellow chef. Learning that the Chinese chef was hurriedly returning to Yulin for the annual Dog and Cat Meat festival, the Korean man relaxed.
They talked about the shocking problem of America, so many stray cats and dogs. Then the shock of the abundance of food while there were homeless and starving humans in America and the world. And after a long rambling talk of food and friendship and a few cups of wine, they devised: “A Humble Proposal: For preventing unwanted dogs and cats of the people from being a burden to their country and making them beneficial to the public.”
The Yulin chef commented, “It is a melancholy for those who walk through this great country, when they see the streets and sidewalks crowded with beggars of the furry kind, followed by three, four or six puppies or kittens. Every time one stops to eat and they cast a sad eye and either mutely or vociferously begging for a piece of food.”
“Yes,” said the Yulin chef, “These mothers, have not honest livelihood. They have no home. They are forced to spend their time pacing about to beg for sustenance. That no longer happens in Yulin. Stray dogs and cats are properly taken care of.”
“So to is the case in Korea,” the Korean chef added. “We have places where you can take your unwanted dog . Sure we have animal shelters and we hold the animals just in case they are pets, but after a certain amount of time, we kill those animals, but we don’t waste them. We put that meat to good use.”
“It’s a shame that eating cats and dogs isn’t as widespread in China as it is in Korea,” said the Yulin chef.
“Not so,” the Korean chef corrected his new Chinese friend. “We only eat dogs and not cats. Yet perhaps if I did some research, say a study tour to Yulin, we could convince the Korean to eat cats as well. In Korea, we have dog farms, just like the Americans have chicken and turkey farms.”
The Chinese man looked thoughtful and wistfully said, “You have dog farms?”
“They have them here,” the Korean chef said. “They call them puppy mills, but the Americans are so wasteful. It’s like there pumpkin farms. Some pumpkins are grown for ornamentation and not eaten at all.”
“Yes, the Americans,” said the Chinese chef with a snort. “They complain about other cultures eating dogs and when reminded that the English eat bunnies, the Asian Hindus don’t eat cows and the Jews and Muslims don’t eat pork, they say it is because of the way we kill the dogs.” Seeing the Korean chef’s quizzical look, the Chinese chef explained, “We boil them alive. Sometimes we stun them then singe the skin off.”
“You mean like the traditional European way of cooking lobsters?” asked the Korean chef.
“Yes. They don’t mind the Japanese eating dancing shrimp either,” explained the Chinese chef. “One reason I came to the U.S. was to study the correct methods of killing livestock according to the Americans.”
“Not even Americans can agree,” the Korean chef said. “I’ve been here before and I visited a New Jersey slaughterhouse, one of the nation’s largest veal and lamb companies, and they didn’t care if a calf was conscious on a kill line. They dragged a conscious calf by a chain. they kick calves and pull them by their ears.”
“I hear in Europe they shoot day-old calves and don’t eat them,” the Chinese chef said with a sigh.
The Korean chef was quiet and looked furtively around and in a low voice said, “You know they do torture dogs in America. But for research. They torture animals for research here.”
The Chinese chef continued, “I went to the poultry farm. Americans are perfectly fine grinding up male chicks alive, electrocuting or throwing them alive intro trashcans to suffocate–one on top of the other. You could hear them peep, peep, peeping. Once the trashcan gets too full of the fluffy chicks, the workers, they stomp them down, with their own feet. Egg-laying chickens can be killed that way as well. Trashcans…one on top of the other. If they are eating chickens, adult chickens, they can be boiled alive. Not a problem.”
The Chinese chef commented, “You know the difference is that Americans don’t like looking at their problems here. Americans are always telling other people how to live: Save the panda, but not save the coyote or the wolf.”
“Yes, they have shooting contests for coyotes here, but they don’t eat the meat,” the Korean chef said. “Just like those Japanese Buddhist who don’t eat meat, but eat chicken and fish.”
“Real Buddhists are vegans,” the Chinese chef said. “Luckily, Chinese eat everything with four legs or two wings, except tables chairs and airplanes.”
“That’s why there are no unicorns,” the Korean chef said with a wink.
“Don’t blame us for that!” the Chinese chef retorted. “I think St. George was slaying more than dragons.”
“Imagine,” the Korean chef said, “1.2 million dogs being killed each year in American animal shelters. What a waste. Americans could feed all its people and cure the stray dog problem if they ate dog meat.”
“Yes,” the Chinese chef said with a waggish look in his eye, “but how many of those are Chihuahuas?”
–parody written with apologies to Jonathan Swift.