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The other kind of hotdog

Updated: 2013-08-10 11:44
By Raymond Zhou ( China Daily)

Using Western custom as a paragon has more pitfalls. Why should we look up to other countries for standards in food choice? For healthy eating, one culture may be ahead of another; but for ethical eating, it is all relative. One culture may deem one animal taboo while another holds a different animal as sacred and still another one requires religious rites to be performed when slaughtering the animal. Nobody can claim absolute moral superiority or exemption from controversy.

Political correctness dictates we respect other cultures while searching for the lowest common denominator. When CNN released a top 10 list of "the most disgusting food", some Chinese lodged complaints because the preserved egg, a Chinese staple, made the list. I looked at the other entries and, judging from the photo illustrations, I would not touch them unless I was on the brink of starvation.

It is clearly a case of where you stand. As I'm Chinese and grew up eating preserved eggs, I do not find them revolting at all. But Americans may well get sick eating them, either from a feeling of nausea or from an easily upset stomach, just as I may encounter the same consuming the other nine entries, most of which are Asian. Had the CNN article been re-titled "10 foods that may upset Americans", there would be nothing wrong. The CNN writer was essentially surveying food from an office in Atlanta, forgetting that its media presence is now all over the world.

That said, we should have the freedom to debate what is or is not appropriate to put on the plate. Even within China, culinary cultures differ from place to place. Cantonese are often criticized for eating "anything that moves" on the ground as some of these animals are endangered species or because butchering them may push certain viruses from animals to humans. Mutual respect does not preclude sensible discussions.

Back to Yulin and its dog-eating festival. It's unlikely locals will soon sacrifice their meat choice because of outside pressure. But they should consider toning down publicity for the event now that they are aware that their delight may be offensive to others.

As a cosmopolitan lifestyle spreads to smaller cities, Yulin may have its own demographic of pet owners who grow uncomfortable at seeing animals similar to their pets slaughtered and roasted on an open fire. Only when the community itself realizes the need for change will change be embraced and implemented.

For more X-Ray,here

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