Thought of the Day

I don't believe in morality, but I believe in ethical conduct as set out by His Holiness the Dalai Lama: "Ethical conduct = a way of behaving that respects others’ right to be happy".

Thursday, 17 November 2005

Great Escape

Over the last few weeks I have been enjoying Jamie Oliver's Great Escape to Italy. He travelled around central and south of Italy in his VW camper to get some inspiration from the people and their food. It is a quite funny series especially because nobody knows "Jamie Oliver" down there, and everybody treated him as an inexperienced young boy (with gorgeous eye). Very amusing! The only disappointing aspect is that there is not much cooking going on and not real interaction with the locals since naughty Jamie has not learnt much Italian so far (does he remind you someone?), and the people he visits can hardly speak any English. However, some of his observations are really acute. He said two very true things about Italians: 1. that everybody considers him- or herself an expert of taste; and 2. that people are very sometimes stubborn and reluctant to try different cusines, not only from different countries, but even from the different regions of Italy. In one episode, a controversial footage upset some Channel 4 viewers: "Jamie Oliver hit the headlines again last week when he was seen slaughtering a lamb during the filming of Jamie’s Great Escape. Some viewers complained to Channel 4 claiming the killing was ‘barbarous’ and should not have been broadcast before the 9pm watershed. Jamie himself was close to tears during the killing and afterwards admitted it was ‘pretty emotional --pretty hard-core’. Britain’s favourite chef was shown holding a knife to the lamb’s throat and hesitating before killing the animal." © Channel4 This took place where my family lives and where I grew up: in Le Marche. I grew up witnessing chickens and pigeons getting 'slaughtered' and always found it normal. I was a bit sad for the rabbits because I used to play with them putting them in a basket and pretending they were my children (?!?). But I admit that the scene of the baby sheep getting stabbed was a bit hard even for me. I am pleased that it was shown because this is one of the less cruel way animals are killed. And I agree with Jamie's comment: "It's a beautiful creature, but it is tasty and we are top of the food chain. If that offends you, you shouldn’t eat it. A chef who has cooked 2,000 sheep should kill at least one, otherwise you're a fake." "The programme featured Jamie staying with a family of farmers and hunters in Le Marche region of Italy. Not only did he kill the lamb for a family feast--but he was seen trying to shoot, but missing a wild boar while on a hunting trip. It later showed a three year old girl joining in as the family skinned and gutted the wild boar into her paddling pool." © Channel4 As Jamie says: "Life is made of ugly things and not just of teletubbies". I simply concur--this is a natural way to show *ugliness* to children. "Some critics felt that the killing, the way many lambs are killed in rural Italy, was inhumane as the animal was still conscious. In the UK animals must be killed on licensed premises and must first be stunned--normally with a bolt to the head." © Channel4 But it is added: "However both the Jewish and Muslim faiths are exempt from this law because their religions demand animals are killed with a single cut to the throat. [...] The method of killing the lamb was one not out of the ordinary in rural Italy and one considered humane by all present. Jamie feels that the piece is an honest and powerful account of how meat is respected in Italy. Italians consider animal welfare of the utmost importance. A large percentage of animals are reared organically rather than by battery methods. The hunters of the La Marche region have a much purer notion of the relationship between animals and meat than, say, a person who buys beef burgers on a weekly basis, without any consideration for how the animal in the products was raised or by the way in which they were killed.'" © Channel4 Oh, and here is a nice recipe: Vignole


carrie_lofty said...

"The hunters of the La Marche region have a much purer notion of the relationship between animals and meat than, say, a person who buys beef burgers on a weekly basis, without any consideration for how the animal in the products was raised or by the way in which they were killed."

Excellent point! We, as grocery store Westerners, and for the most part wusses. And we're selfish. We don't want to know that the steak came from an animal with beautiful eyes.

My mom has learned a lot more about Jewish and Muslim practices because they are significant consumers of goat meat, which she raises. The Muslims have to kill the goat on a consecrated place before eating it. The other day, three Nigerians stopped by her farm (they had just been driving past) to ask if her goats were for sale (not yet - her herd isn't big enough). And a few Mexicans my dad works with wanted a goat because they wanted to roast it at a feast for their father's birthday.

Yet goat as a meat is hardly a thought in American minds. And actually KILLING one? Or any animal? Truly the only people who have a sense of this process (and I am not one of them) are farmers and hunters. Hunting is controversial here, still, but at least they eat the animal, know the value of that meat. A friend of mine whose husband hunted deer in the autumn said she always felt obligated to eat the deer meat (as opposed to accidentally leaving it in the fridge too long and having to throw it out) because she had seen the animal it came from. Just out of respect!

However, I do think the program should have come with an advisory notice at the beginning, especially for young children. I appreciate the idea of teaching my girls about these topics, but because they have not been raised around animals at butchering time, the images could have been startling and fairly upsetting.

Mircalla said...

The did advise the audience before the programme saying: "Please note that Jamie will kill a goat in this programme, and someone may find this upsetting." Or something similar.

carrie_lofty said...

Well, then, they were warned!