It seems that every outdoors-adventure-type movie and TV show contains this line. Is this just some massive running gag in the entertainment industry, or is it really true that chicken tastes like lizard, moose, giraffe, three-toed sloth, South American reticulated python, etc?
P.S.: Can anyone pin down the first time this was said of some exotic game?
I think you can break down the basic varieties of taste (flesh-wise)by taxonomic class. Basically Fish, Mammal (red meat), bird and reptile. Most of us have little experience beyond chicken and turkey in eating birds and none at all as far as reptiles are concerned. Since birds and reptiles are the closest related of the groups, it makes sense that the taste and texture of their flesh would be similar.
My guess is that any bird or reptile you eat is going to remind you of chicken.
I would hazard that moose, giraffe and sloth taste more like pork or beef. The fact that human flesh tastes like pork has already been well-documented in Cecil’s column.
In your average cut of meat, a large proportion of the flavor is in the fat not the muscle. This is one reason why meat is more flavorful than poultry.
Most of the exotic animals that people eat are wild not domestic. They contain less fat than domestically raised animals. This reduced fat content means reduced flavor. Most people when asked about these meats tend to associate it them the most fat free meat they are familiar with; chicken.
Actually, Diceman, this is one of those phrases that has been mutated over the course of time. The etimology of the phrase dates back to the time of the Brothers Grimm and a huge government initiative to change the culinary habits of old hags living in gingerbread houses. The initiative only suceeded when a little remembered beaurocrat convinced the hags to try suckling pig by uttering the phrase “Tastes like children.” BTW, as this is the first recorded indication that human flesh and pork share similar gastronomic qualities, this beaurocrat is rumored to be one of Cecil’s forefathers. I don’t know how many mothers are involved.
I have a friend whose parents are Korean immigrants with a wonderful sense of humor. When they first arrived, people would invite them over for parties and inevitably tell them the ingredients of every foos they were eating. They decided to get back at Americans.
Whenever somebody told them all about this new food they “probably never tasted before” (I saw them do it with Chili at one buffet party), one would tentatively take a taste, and then jabber excitedly to the other in Korean, then dig in.
Invariably, the host would eventually ask what they had said. Deadpan, Woogie’s mother would say, “He said it tasted just like dog!”
Broke me up every time.
Through the modem, past the router, over the firewall… nothing but 'Net -
FYI, wild game has MUCH MORE flavour than domestic crap. The flavour in meat comes from the meat itself; the fat enhances the flavour by just being fat. (It’s why high-fat foods taste good.) Wild meat has a far more intense flavour than domestically raised animals, especially those that are fed commercial feed and not allowed to run around. The quality of the food that goes into an animal determines the quality (ie flavour) of the meat that comes out the other side of the abbattoir. Something like a moose, for example, grazes on tender sprigs of willows, succulent water vegetables and juicy mixes of organically grown grasses. Moose meat is amazing. The difference between it and farm-raised beef is kind of like the difference between cheap-ass grape juice in a tetrapak and a fine Bordeaux wine.
And moose meat tastes nothing like chicken. If you’ve ever had really high quality, free-range, organically raised beef, it’s kind of like that, only better.
I think that both the question and answer are silly. Nothing tastes like anything else, and comparisons are tenuous at best. The question is asked only because they are curious, but don’t want to taste it themselves, and the question is answered only because the taster is under pressure to give some kind of answer.
Try this question, for example. Imagine someone who has never tasted beef before, and just wants to try it just once. What you you give that person, to use as a default value for “tastes like beef”. Would you serve hamburger? meat loaf? steak? pastrami? from what cut? and with which sauces or marinades?
My example sounds outlandish until you realize how easy it is to tell the difference between a turkey hotdog and a chicken hotdog – provided you have had experience with many kinds of beef and many kinds of turkey.
My example sounds outlandish until you realize how easy it is to tell the difference between a BEEF hotdog and a CHICKEN hotdog – provided you have had experience with many kinds of BEEF and many kinds of CHICKEN.
You know, all this reminds me of something I read once (naturally, I don’t recall where) about cat meat. It said that cat meat is about the only meat that tastes significantly different from beef or chicken. The obvious question being, how the hell does he know this? Seriously, are there that many people that routinely eat cats?
Of course, there’s always the possibility that he was talking out of his ass, but still…
Wolfpac’s back with the mass destruction…
Given that cats are carnivores and cows and chickens aren’t, I would have assumed that cat would taste significantly different.
If you think about it, you’ll notice that there are not a lot of carnivores in the diets of humans anywhere in the world. The exception to this is seal meat, which is eaten by people in northern climates. I have never tasted seal, but it apparently has more of a fishy taste than a cow-or-chicken taste.
The you-are-what-you-eat concept applies here, I think - the flavour of most animal flesh tends to reflect what that animal has been eating. Also, certain environmental toxins and other stuff tend to build up as you chow down further up the food chain, so you’ve got a better chance of eating a bunch of pesticides if you eat a wolf that’s been feeding off a herd of cattle that graze on a pesticide-treated field than you do if you just eat one of the cows.
Just a point of interest, while the subject is still hot… There’s a book that Borders carried (when I worked there some two years ago, anyway) that was called “Unmentionable Cuisine” by Calvin Schwabe. It was an amusing (and often disgusting) cookbook that had recipes in it for all sorts of vittles that most Americans would find utterly disgusting. Everything from cricket to dog to … human. shudder Just in case you were looking for a main dish to serve with those faver beans and chianti. Heh.
>>Seriously, are there that many people that routinely eat cats?<<
This is getting way off topic, but in butcher shops in France you see skinned rabbits displayed for sale. If you look closely you will notice that the fur has been left on the feet. I am told that this is legally required to prevent butchers from passing off cats as rabbits.
There may be more than one way to skin a cat, but in France there’s only one way to skin a rabbit
As for people eating carnivores, I saw something on the Discovery Channel that said that Australian Aborigenies eat cats. This is because cats, along with rabbits, have wiped out almost all of the small game that the aborigenies used to hunt. I guess marsupials don’t breed very quickly.