Friday, January 29, 2010

Bambi's Mother, Meet My Stomach!

I was born in the Philippines. During the 10 years I lived there, I ate what was put in front of me without batting an eye. Every day was like an episode of Fear Factor. Cooked salmon roe, still in the sac, straight from the mommy fish? Check. Fish eyeballs? Sucked the living daylights out of them! Beef tripe? As part of Kare-Kare, it’s one of my favourite things to eat. So then why am I feeling so squeamish about my first time eating venison tomorrow?

First, let me explain what venison is. Yes, I had to ask the Professor what it was again, because for the life of me, I kept thinking that it was “baby cow”. No, I was promptly told that venison is, and I quote, “Bambi’s mother”! Ever since last week, I have been thoroughly creeped out. Yes, I know venison is very lean. Yes, venison is not that gamey. I have heard about all the benefits. Still, I saw the movie and I cried hysterically when (spoiler alert!) Bambi’s mother gets off’d by one of the hunters. How can I then partake without guilt in the Big Birthday Venison Cook-Off tomorrow? My heart aches, but my stomach also burns with curiosity.

Since when did guilt about eating animals override my adventurous palate? Do real food critics vacillate between wanting to venture outside of the box when it comes to cuisine and feeling sorry for the poor critter they are eating? I have watched Iron Chef several times, and the panel of judges never seem deterred by the crazy concoctions the chefs create. Or, if they were, you’d never know, from the steely expressions seen all around. I remember one episode in particular where Chef Chris Cosentino cooked a squab's head and instructed the judges to "grab the beak and suck out the brains." Like a crawfish, he said. Are you kidding me?! But did anyone flinch? No!

I need to strategize for tomorrow. Maybe I just won't eat for the day, so by the time the food is ready for the party, I will be so hungry that I can ignore the images of deer flashing in front of my eyes. Or perhaps I just have to reach deep inside of me to bring out the 10 year old girl with the iron stomach and non-existent gag reflex who ate fish eyeballs and beef tripe. If Donatella Arpaia (love her!) can suck brains out of a squab's skull, then I can eat Bambi's momma! Or, I can just bring my tub of cottage cheese and quietly eat in the corner.


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