Saturday, May 28, 2011

I Killed a Goat

Actually I didn't.  But as I opened up the Toronto Star this morning and saw an article about Mr. Facebook and his new "eat what you kill" diet plan that trumps the "eat what you grow" or the "eat food from a can" (I tried that one and am a big proponent of it for students) or even the "if it comes from China, I won't eat it" diet plan, I was reminded of an experience in Arusha.

So unless everyone decides on just eating dandelion and ant salad every single day for every single meal, I think we'd have a hard time sticking to the eat what you kill diet.

But I did try to eat what I killed, or rather, kill what I eat.  I just couldn't do it.

The plan was set for me to buy a small (probably a baby goat) at the Thursday market in Ngaramtoni for about $15 CDN.  (Yes, you can buy an entire live goat for about the same price as lamb chops from a Jack Astor's.)  After buying the goat, we - David, Robert, and I from Sakina Camp - would take the goat back and make it into food.  I say make it into food, because killing this face ain't easy.

In all fairness to me, it wasn't the killing factor that turned me off of my furry handmade meal.  It was how I was going to kill it.

Mr. Facebook's pro chef - Jesse Cool - said "he (Mr. F) cut the throat of the goat with a knife, which is the most kind way to do it".  Well, if I was given that kind image of professional goat throat slashing, I would've been killing a goat once a week.  Seems so simple: buy the goat, lull it to sleep with a lullaby or story about the troll under the bridge, gently run the knife over its neck, set the oven to 400 degrees, and let bake for 2 hours.  You can serve it with a nice white wine and roasted asparagus.

Here's goat killing Tanzanian style (or at least the way that I was supposed to do it):

First off, it's a three person operation.  One person to hold its mouth, the other to hold its feet, and third is the executioner (I was going to be the executioner).

Really, there is no real Julia Child's how-to for this.  But the fact of the matter is, you're not slicing a piece of pork rump you bought from Metro (or any other supermarket out there) for $5.99.

You slice the goat's head off.  Yes, slice it right off.  Not only slice, but you got to first get through the fur, then the skin, the muscle, finally break through the spine, and do it all over again on the other side (scroll back up now and look at the photo).  And while you're slicing and dicing, the goat is screaming and kicking.  Choking on its own death rattle.  Blood is splattering everywhere while you play highschool biology dissectioner under a tree with Mt. Meru in background.

Call me a chicken, call me soft, call me Mr. PETA, call me a hypocrite because I still ate meat that someone else had to slice and dice that same night.  But I was told during my deliberation on whether to do it or not that if I can't "kill what I eat", I don't deserve to eat meat.  And in theory, she was right.

But that's also like telling someone if you can't drill your own oil, you don't deserve to drive your own car.  Or if you're not a seamstress or a tailor, you don't deserve to wear or own clothes.  Or if you're not prepared to die for your own country, you don't deserve to be a citizen.

So, Mr. Facebook, I lay down a challenge.  Next time you decide you want to eat a burger, post a video of you killing a cow on youtube and I'll be the first one to sing your praises.

Some of us are just too chicken to kill our feathery brethren.


  1. lol a lullaby or troll under a bridge... how do you think up these things?

  2. A whole lot of truth. A little bit of creativity. A little bit of madness.

  3. Cara stole my initial comment.

    You should live the reap what you sow lifestyle and write a book. Ride a bike that you built out of wood that you cut down yourself. Eat whatever you can harvest from your Mum's yard. Make your own paper to print your dissertation on.

    I'd read it!

  4. Handmade paper for my dissertation would probably be the only interesting thing about it.

  5. You can make a really nice looking paper out of elephant dung. They sell it at the gift shop of the Calgary zoo...and maybe the Toronto one too, who knows.
    On a grimmer note, I drove past a truck full of chickens headed to the packaging plant today. They were in plastic stackable crates (like the ones bread comes on, and only very slightly taller)stacked several deep and dozens high, with the sides open to the air - presumably to keep them cool, but can you imagine driving on the highway like that? They were lying on their sides because there wasn't room for them to stand. Some did not have their heads up, either. Never mind asking me if I'd be willing to kill them myself. I don't even like having SEEN them like that.
    In contrast, a farmer I met in New Zealand raised beef cattle. They lived outside on grass all year and were killed at home. They actually did look like happy animals. The farmer said, with some pride, "I like to think they only ever have one bad day."
    I don't mind someone else doing the killing for me to get my meat - I am not such a purist, and as you say, someone else makes my clothes, too. If it's ethical food I am after, though, surely I can make the effort to make sure my meat comes from happy cattle rather than chickens by the truckload.

  6. Not to turn my response to your comment into a facetious statement, but I wonder if people would be more inclined to eat and buy meat from "happy" animals. Just like how people can buy organic or free run.

    On another note, I think live chickens are the most disgusting animals on earth. They eat garbage, poop everywhere. Gross.