For longer than he would care to acknowledge, my son was of the sincerest belief that Buffalo Wings derived from a buffalo. He’s not a dumb child, just picky, and probably so overjoyed to discover any food which we should not need to debate him on, that the matter of its specific provenance scarcely merits deeper scrutiny.
What part of the animal did he actually picture these hiding? Were they something shrunken and residual, from a time when buffalos roamed the skies like pterodactyls?
Say this for Henrik Drescher’s riotous and unapologetic nutritional fable Hubert the Pudge: A Vegetarian Tale: nothing of these particular eight-month-old livestock goes to waste, not the knuckles, and not the squeal, which is canned and installed in car alarms and foghorns – hardly the sort of noble, total usage one associates with nose-to-tail enthusiasts and Iroquois Indians.
Still, let’s give this author and illustrator a little credit for not splitting any hairs. The first few times I read this story about a dreamy stray mammal permitted to explore his “super chunky-normous” potential in the wild before returning to liberate his fellow wretched Pudges from Farmer Jake’s hellishly claustrophobic processing plant, I wondered if it was possible to actually traumatize a child into lifelong vegetarianism, though more and more now I am convinced it is our steady disillusionment that is the larger and most immediate peril. How many eggs can you eat in the shape of a hockey puck, how much cheese can you spray from a can, before you just stop trying to imagine its beginnings in nature?
So here’s a heads-up, for the fearless, for the game, maybe every bit as relevant at your local farmer’s market as the drive-through – because no one is not at least a little salesman who produces our food. I was recently reading how the turkeys which most of us eat every holiday are only eighteen weeks in this world, whereas those Heritage birds, by most accounts juicier, more ethical, and staggeringly expensive, are permitted to gambol across God’s green earth for… twenty-eight! I wonder if they are ever quite as fulfilled by those extra ten weeks as Drescher’s emancipated Pudges, reading and picnicking and playing banjo and working in a tofu mill. But you be the judge. Perhaps there is no greater privilege, or responsibility.