Sarah McLachlan became the latest in a line of celebrities to protest Canada’s east coast seal hunt. I remember Brigitte Bardot on the ice floes in the 70’s, while Newfoundlanders huddled around the CBC news and alternately berated and ogled her. Larry King hosted Paul McCartney and the gold-digger, and their misinformed ranting; they were taken down by then-NL Premier Danny Williams kicked their sadly misinformed butts (Danny Williams! We love you!)
Those ubiquitous pictures of the helpless white coats, beseeching eyes, heartbreakingly cuddly appearance–these baby seals sure do make it easy to jump on the anti-seal hunt bandwagon, I’ll give them that. Doesn’t matter that the white coats are not the prey of the sealers, they are the cute ones.
And therein lies my issue with the protesting of the hunt. Replace those adorable fuzzy seal pups with, say, sewer rats. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem quite so sexy to protest rat “cruelty”, not such a pretty photo op. And that is what the majority of celebrity protest is all about, because if not, the rich and famous would protect the ugly, the unknown, the unloved with as much fierceness and resolve as the do the “cute” animals.
The ethics of slaughtering animals for food is a complex, contentious issue. What makes a “humane” killing? What about cultural norms? Religious practices? So many factors, so many schools of thought.
The choices we make in our diets should be no more examined, ridiculed, condemned in broad strokes than, say, our choice of faith or spouses.
I don’t eat veal because I can’t get past the way its produced–but I won’t be out camping at the barns, squawking about baby cows on the radio, or shooting daggers across the dining room as someone else orders the scallopini–because it’s a personal thing.
And I don’t subscribe to the idea that we should all be vegetarians; we’re at the top of the food chain for a reason. What I do despise is waste–if an animal has been sacrificed for human consumption, then we must do right by that beast and make use of all parts (I abhor trophy hunting for that reason).
Seals are such animals–fur, meat, blubber, all utilized. Not so much the elephant that loses it’s face for a couple of ivory tusks, with it’s carcass left to rot under the blazing African sun. Can we get some celebrities on this, please?
Seal Flipper Pie
Soak flippers overnight in water and baking soda (about 1 tbsp for every gallon of water). This helps tame the salty gaminess of the meat. In a heavy bottomed pot, cook about a half cup of bacon. Traditionally, salt pork would be used. Traditions can always be made better with bacon.
Dredge the flippers in flour, seasoned with cinnamon and pepper, and brown in the bacon fat. Chop an onion, some celery, and carrot (equal parts of each) and toss in the pot. Stir, and then add a splash of port or other bold red wine to take the sticky bits off the bottom of the pot. Add water, stirring. The water, flour and fat should be enough to make a gravy. If it’s not, make some more–call your grandmother if you can, because it’s the old fashioned style of gravy that you want to be using in this recipe. Top the pot with a layer of pastry (something savoury, like a chicken pot pie pastry. Oh, and speaking of savoury, if you happen to have some summer savoury around, use a couple of teaspoons of that; if not, dried oregano will do.)
Now it’s ready to go into a 350F oven until pastry is browned.
And I should warn you, if you’re not familiar with seal meat, it’s definitely an acquired taste.