Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Southeast Asia - Planning Phase - FOOD

I've really started digging into the details of the March 2011 trip to Southeast Asia.  When traveling MS and I try to get live/act like a local.  While traveling together, we have never stopped at McDonald's and always like to try the local food. Our trip to Vietnam will allow us great opportunity to try new food.

I've heard for years that the Vietnamese eat some interesting things (but then again, I'm sure some Indians are horrified that Americans eat cows), things that we could hardly imagine sitting on our dinner plate.  For example, the people of Northern Vietnam eat dog.  I must admit, I honestly never thought ever about eating a dog.  Once this trip made the planning queue, I started to wonder if I could eat a dog, would I want to?  What would it taste like and how would they prepare it.

Interestingly enough,  my guidebook had a section on food and it included details on how the Vietnamese add dog to their diet.  The book indicates dog can be relatively tough -- that doesn't surprise me.  I love to cook and from time to time, I'll use a tough cut of meat.  Toughness is relatively easy to fix: marinate, tenderize or stew and you can easily change the texture of these cheap cuts of meat.  How to do the Vietnamese chefs handle this issue with dog meat?  They opt to tenderize the meat...

They tenderize the meat, but not like you are expecting.  According to the guidebook and a couple of other travel websites the dogs are "tenderized" while still alive.  The dogs are beaten with rubber hoses before slaughter - evidently this really makes the meat tender.

Upon reading this, I knew I would never eat a dog.  The idea of eating a dog is a bit rough for me, but the idea of someone beating a dog with a hose right before it is butchered is something I cannot handle.  Don't get me wrong, I will eat lamb and veal -- two animals that some people say are tortured before consumption.

It looks like I will be the unadventurous American and will not try dog while in Vietnam -- I will not knowingly try any animal that has been beaten while living.  I cannot shed my American taboos.

Have you ever tried dog? Is my research incorrect -- are the dogs not beaten with a hose before they are slaughtered?  When you travel do you live like a local or prefer to try foreign versions of American restaurants?

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