Why is it that in many parts of the world a perfectly acceptable ingredient for the pot is strictly taboo in another? Take donkey, the domesticated ass, is loved in parts of Africa, the Far East and even in parts of Europe, but to your average person in the US or UK, eating them would be particularly frowned upon.
The North Korean leader Kim Jong Ils favorite dish is said to be roast donkey which he calls ‘heavenly cow’, served up with all the trimmings of a traditional roast. The Chinese have a particular penchant for donkey meat and produce a variety of dishes including the donkey sandwich garnished with green peppers and lettuce. Across to Africa, where the Ghanaians are finding that donkey meat is becoming extremely popular, with soups and kebabs particularly in favor. While the Nigerians are in danger of running out of donkeys altogether, with a rising population and their fondness for the meat.
France in the Middle Ages produced a celebrated dish of donkey foal, stuffed with small birds, eels and herbs. The French continued through the centuries eating donkey meat until quite recently, France was still making their famous ‘Saucisson of Arles’ a salami of donkey and bull meat until 20th C. But it is the Italians who have a serious taste for donkey. Stracotto d’Asino is basically donkey stewed for 7-8 hours and Tapulon is minced donkey cooked slowly with spices and red wine. Many Italian salamis are reputed to contain more than a smidgeon of donkey too.
Nutritionally similar to beef, donkey meat is said to also taste similar, perhaps slightly sweeter and more like veal but with pungent overtones. Many Arab countries are continually cracking down on butchers and restaurateurs who persist at passing off donkey as beef.
Both Judaism and Islam prohibit eating the meat from a donkey. And countries that still use these beasts of burden, as just that, don’t tend to partake in devising the next donkey recipe either. In the UK, a Frenchman crossed the English Channel to open up a delicatessen where he was selling donkey salami at $5.50 each. Local residents and animal activists campaigned extensively to force him to withdraw this product, which he did do. So it doesn’t seem likely that we will see any donkey meat on our menus in the near future, perhaps it’s just the thought that we really can’t eat Eeyore.
Photos courtesy of Flickr - Mr See, Hottbucks, Jhnthfinn, Dugback and Dianejaquezze77