Despite the title of my blog, I’m not a carnivore. I’m an omnivore.
Or am I?
According to my Random House Webster’s Dictionary, an “omnivore” is “someone or something that is omnivorous.”
Duh. Next reference, please.
Omnivorous (om niv’ər əs), adj.
- feeding on both animals and plants – Check.
- eating all kinds of foods indiscriminately – Uh…no.
I’m not a fussy eater. It’s just that there are some things I don’t consider “food.”
I know, for example, that insects are eaten by humans all over the globe. People insist that they are tasty, nutritious, environmentally friendly, and even “the food of the future.” (Online, you can order “cricket and larva lollipops” containing arthropods with “the taste and crunch of popcorn.”) Call me prejudiced, but I can’t see myself going there, unless I was starving.
Pickiness is, I suspect, inversely correlated with hunger.
When we’re reasonably well fed, though, it’s not hard to abide by our rules: our aesthetic, ethical, religious, and cultural proscriptions.
- Some of us, obviously, won’t eat flesh, or any food that comes from animals. Been there, done that.
- Some of us won’t eat wild game. For others, a hunted-or-fished meal is the finest feast imaginable.
- Some of us won’t eat flesh unless we know where it came from. Others would rather not know.
- Some won’t eat pigs. Others have recurrent fantasies involving the mysterious aromatic powers of bacon.
- In some parts of the world, folks consider cows sacred; harming them is taboo. In other places, folks will happily sit down to a plate of sirloin but are revolted by the idea of people eating horse, dog, or cat.
By and large, I have no quarrel with such notions of what is or is not edible. But I do think they’re worth questioning, and—now and then—stretching.
Twenty years ago, early in college, I had the chance to spend a semester in Japan. My first afternoon there, I sat down to a plate of okonomiyaki: a kind of thick pancake, with vegetables and seafood stirred into the batter. A few bites in, I found myself looking down at a chunk of purple tentacle.
It wasn’t bad. A tad rubbery, but not bad.
© 2010 Tovar Cerulli