The picture here is the outside of a coffee shop in Hongdae, not far from where I live. I haven’t been in there. I like the smell of coffee, but there are some other things that are the same color whose aroma I don’t fancy so well …
Much of today’s topic might not be suitable for the squeamish among us. You can be thankful, at least, that I don’t have any pictures of my own to go along with this.
Oh, wait, maybe I do. Come inside and let’s see.
First, here’s an article about dangerous food. There are 9 of them on the list, but a lot of my friends will be surprised that only one of them is from Korea: san nakji, or live octopus. I’ve had it before, a special gift from the owner of a seafood restaurant far away from the big city who had never had a foreigner come into his place, but he did not bother to warn me about anything. It’s one of those things you do mainly so that later you can say, “Sure, I’ve done that.” The tricky thing about it is that, since it is still alive, the suckers are still active and will attach themselves to the inside of your mouth – okay, that’s just weird, but the risky part is that, as the article says, unless you chew it properly, those suckers will do the same thing halfway down your esophagus. Apparently there are a few people who die this way every year.
But on the subject of odd food, we cannot ignore the recent story – which, I should say at the start, is probably just a story – about some Japanese researchers coming up with a way to turn human feces into steak. Now, I know what you’re going to say, people will eat just about anything in this part of the world – the Japanese in particular are fond of whale blubber (tastes terrible, they say, so you know it’s got to be good for you) and they don’t even bother to cook their fish before they eat it, ferchrissake.
And then, down on Jeju Island here in Korea, people claim that pork tastes better if the pigs had been raised on human excrement, and I suppose that’s just one level removed from what they seem to be talking about. (I’ve tried that, too, and I find no difference in the flavor.)
Just as some things are too good to be true, others are too true not to be funny – and in this case, it just might not be true at all.
Justiin Elliot over at Salon has his doubts. It turns out that Yahoo News picked it up from Digital Trends, who apparently got it from Fox News (which, as we know, has never been wrong or even lied about anything before) who apparently got it from a YouTube video. That’s all. Apparently nobody bothered to check the facts or the sources any further. Others picked it up and ran with it as well. Interestingly, though the video can be seen on the DT link above, and elsewhere, my own attempts to search for it inside of YouTube itself proved unsuccessful, and at least one place on the web is backing away. (“UPDATE: We think we may have gotten duped!”)
But I suppose the question deserves to be asked – if it were true, and a high-protein pooburger were available at a cheap price, would you eat it? If it were actually healthy, I mean, really, ought we disdain it? How different is it from the Jeju pig I mentioned, or if you used human manure to fertilize corn that was later fed to a cow?
And how would vegetarians feel? After all, a lot of them, even extreme vegans, are really all in favor of anything that prevents animals from being slaughtered or used as livestock, and many of those of my acquaintance have no problem with gluten or tofu processed to look like meat. Heck, with this scheme, every animal alive could be stuck away on a nature preserve and protected from any contact with humans. For that matter, every species of critter could go completely extinct and I’d still get to have my Reuben on rye.
Meanwhile, Digestion blog is most skeptical of all, and provides a list of reasons why the thing is likely bogus. It’s curious to wonder who would go to the trouble to make this up, and what was the motivation?
Even without originating in a toilet bowl, meat from the laboratory is inevitable at some point. NPR talked about it recently:
“There is something inherently creepy about [growing meat in labs],” Specter tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “But there is something more inherently creepy about the way we deal with the animals that we eat. … They live a horrible life, and they often die quite cruelly. So the idea of being able to eliminate some of that is extremely exciting for a lot of people.”
The New Yorker has a more in-depth article, but you’ll need to subscribe, I’m afraid.
The fact is, though, that there is a lot of non-meat stuff that ends up in those abominations we call franchise hamburgers, and most people don’t know and don’t care very much – what bothers me is, if excremental meat becomes a real thing in the world, and when it becomes cheaper than the real thing, it could become one of those additional elements in a McBurger Quarter Kilo Supah Whoopass Funny Meal … and would they bother to tell anyone?
Do you really think so?
And in case you think you thought of the joke on your own, others have already been talking about “Soylent Brown.”
There is a site over here titled Mental Poo. Although this story seems a natural, the blogger has completely dropped the ball on it, as far as I can tell. Word in your ear, kid.
Koreans, by the way, think poo is cute. I don’t agree with them about this, as I’ve said elsewhere. Nevertheless, a few years ago a stop-motion animated Korean film called “Doggy Poo” won awards in Tokyo and New York. (I told someone the award was at Cannes, but I was in error. Apparently, even the French have limits.)
You can see it here on YouTube, dubbed into English.
The sign here is another cafe in Hongdae, and in this case I actually did go inside and tell them what it means in English. They were aware already, and told me the name comes from a Chinese word that means “bean.” Well then, why not use the Chinese character, I wondered …
Walked by the same street a few weeks ago. The shutters are up, the doors are locked, furniture packed away and they are out of business.
Hey, I did what I could.