Today, April 13th …
The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-06), was the first U.S. overland expedition to the Pacific coast and back. On this day in 1806, the party was on the return trip, and Meriwether Lewis wrote in his journal:
… the dog now constitutes a considerable part of our subsistence and with most of the party has become a favorite food; certain I am that it is a healthy strong diet, and from habit it has become by no means disagreeable to me, I prefer it to lean venison or Elk, and it is very far superior to the horse in any state.
The expedition party frequently bartered with Indian tribes along the route for dogs for food, but not all were as enthusiastic as Lewis. The rearing of dogs specifically for food, as has happened (and still happens) in various communities is a concept which causes outrage amongst animal rights advocates who are geographically and culturally elsewhere, and who unfortunately seem unable to keep ethnic slurs out of the debate.
Like it or not, for all sorts of reasons throughout history, man’s best friend has at times been man’s best food. One mans taboo or crime is another’s delicacy or medicine, and a taboo can be quickly neutralised by extreme hunger. The Polar explorer Robert Peary (1909) said “Many times I have thanked God for a bite of raw dog”, and who are we who have not experienced starvation in the frozen wastes to be judgmental?
Lewis and Clark did not have the wherewithal to cook their dog meat to a ‘recipe’, but here, for the curious, and with every disclaimer possible, is a recipe from Jerry Hopkins’ ‘Extreme Cuisine’.
Stir-Fried Dog with Coconut Milk.
1 lb haunch, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 small green chilies, seeded and sliced
4-6 mushrooms, sliced
1 cup coconut milk
5 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1 teaspoon cornflour (mixed with water to form a paste)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh mint leaves
Heat oil in wok or frying pan, then add meat, stir-frying until lightly browned. Add coconut milk and soy sauce and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add onion, chillies, mushrooms, and seasoning and continue to stir. When the mixture begins to bubble, stir in cornflour paste. Garnish with mint leaves. – Based on interviews with Chinese cooks, Bangkok and Guangzhou, 1998.