After reading the story in the paper this morning about Japan's whale meat glut I was suddenly struck with the terrible realization that I have lived more than half a century and have never tasted whale. I've tried and enjoyed the flesh of a number of species not typically found at Harris Teeter. But whale? Not even once. I'm so ignorant about whale meat that if I were to pass by your house on a warm June day and you were in the backyard barbecuing a mess of whale steaks, I would not be able to sniff the air and say to myself "Ummm, somebody is cooking whale."
I figured that before I condemn the Japanese for their "culinary heritage" I'd better know wherefore I speak so I called around a couple of Japanese restaurants to find out what day whale would be on the menu. (I don't want to appear squeamish but I didn't call the Sushi restaurants - despite John Bachelor's glowing review of Sushi 101 - because I think you should walk before you run.) But, heck, you'd have thought I asked them what day kittens would be on the menu. (Before you too get excited I've never eaten kittens either.) You probably have to go to a bigger city like New York or Atlanta to get whale.
The newspaper story says that the Japanese are losing their taste for whale and the implication is (at least how I read it) that the whaling industry is concerned that not only will a number of hard-working whalers be out of work if the trend continues, but soon, the seas will be wall-to-wall whales. I've only seen whales in the wild once - in the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia about 35 years ago - but with all the shark scares of the past few years, the idea of having my summer vacation cut short by pods of marauding whales fills me with trepidation. Those suckers are big and if we've learned anything from Jonah and Pinocchio, they'll swallow you whole and not think twice. If Gregory Peck was alive today he'd probably be the first to remind us that whales are mean-tempered and carry a grudge forever.
I'm pretty good at putting two and two together and getting five but I don't think it's any coincidence that the Japanese are boycotting US beef about the same time as their domestic whaling business is going into the toilet (so to speak) If you think Harris Teeter Rancher beef is expensive, try shopping for Japanese Kobe beef sometimes. I can see some harried Japanese working mother stopping by her favorite store on the way home, picking up a chub of ground Kobe beef ( at $25.00 a pound) and tossing it aside in favor of VIC Special whale chops (if whales have chops). Why not chicken you ask? Uh, bird flu. It's a conspiracy.
Actually, I think my fears of whale overpopulation are probably unfounded. Maybe if we left them alone for a while they might take the time they're currently spending avoiding Japanese whalers and over-eager Green Peacers to finally learn to communicate with us and share their rich culture. They've probably got a million porpoise jokes we never heard.