Monday, February 20, 2006

Don't Knock It Til You've Tried It. Redux

Those of you who are regular readers are aware that I have worked on long term projects in Asia. While there I learned it was best not to ask what was on your plate, just grab your chopsticks and enjoy the new textures and tastes of a foreign cuisine.

This post from Jerry in Bland reminded me of those experiences. It also reminded me of something I read once upon a time about the Lewis and Clark expedition;
While on the trail between 1804 and 1806, the expedition relied mainly on meat to sustain them. It has been estimated that the men needed as much as nine pounds of meat per man each day to keep performing the hard work of traveling. The men must have burned a very large number of calories poling, pushing and pulling their boats forward, as well as hunting and performing other strenuous activities. The game meats the men ate varied with their location and the seasons. East of the Rocky Mountains game was plentiful and the men relied primarily on buffalo meat. Once in the mountains game became scarce and the men had to rely on provisions like their portable soup. On the west side of the mountains they encountered Indian tribes who subsisted on roots and fish, which Lewis and Clark's men thought caused diarrhea. Because they disliked this "western" diet, the men began to purchase or trade for dogs kept by the Indians. Between Weippe Prairie in Idaho and the Pacific Coast the men subsisted almost exclusively on dogs, in the midst of one of the most productive salmon fisheries ever known! During their winter on the Pacific Coast, the diet changed once more, this time to elk. The men began to dislike the monotony of their diet of elk, elk and more elk. On the return trip they switched once more to dog meat, then breathed a sigh of relief when they descended once more to the plains and prairies to the east of the mountains where buffalo were plentiful. In addition to these major sources of meat and protein, it can be said that Lewis and Clark tried nearly every type of game animal that they shot, just for the experience. They certainly preferred the meat of mammals like bison, elk and dog to birds or fish.
I learned in the late '80s (1980's) the same thing our intrepid explorers learned in the early 1800's. If it tastes good, and you're a long way from home, and you're really hungry, (and maybe if it has enough ginger on it), does it really matter if it once barked or mooed?

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