Monday, September 8, 2014

Part P - Teaching in China - Pets

"They eat dogs in China you know."

How many times have I heard this statement and wondered what the underlying message was designed to be. For goodness sake, other people eat snails, snakes, eels, kangaroo, lambs, deer, fish, pigs, horse, insects and all sorts of creatures. It's what many humans tend to do to fill their bellies - often because they enjoy the taste, sometimes through necessity. If the need arose, I suspect I'd gnaw on some foods that right now I'd prefer not to think about.

And just to put the record straight, not all dogs, fish or snails in China are destined for the dinner plate. Many of them will become pets, kept for their beauty, serenity, good fortune or plain lovability.
The Chinese word for fish is similar to the one for abundance, so keeping fish as pets has special significance, fish also represent fertility and happiness.
I'm not too sure who is the star of the cheerfully posed photo above, though the little blue runners on the pooch were striking!
An expat enjoying walking the dog in dappled sunlight.
Puppies for sale in a market in Xuzhou. Not all were in prime condition and I suspect puppy farms are as much a problem in China as they are here. The little ones I photographed were in good condition and bouncing around healthily.

Every morning we'd look out of the hotel window and see groups of people training their dogs, chatting or walking briskly along before the heat of the day became unpleasant. Often the dogs would be off-leash and we nervously watched as the traffic streamed past and the dogs roamed free. But not once did one come close to being splattered! Although small dogs were most common, there were some large animals as well - Samoyed, Chow Chow, and others I didn't know.
One lunchtime our hosts asked us to give some suggestions about which dishes to order. I looked at some meat and suggested it could be a nice change. Bonnie, our interpreter looked at me with horror and simply said "Oh no, that wouldn't be nice"


"It's dog."

Even though dog is on the menu at various restaurants, it's clearly not the meat of choice for everyone!

It's odd though, while I'll cheerfully eat some animals, others aren't quite as tempting. I don't pretend it makes sense and my somewhat more logical brain says that if I'll eat one animal, then why not all of them? My brain then tells me that if I'm unhappy about munching on dog then I shouldn't eat any meats at all.  I'm obviously not as rational as I like to pretend I am!

My previous posts about Teaching in China were our ArrivalBanquets,  Culture and Comfort foods, DrivingExerciseFabulous Food,GamesHistoryIllnessFrom Jerilderie to JiangsuKenny (which is about toiletsLists and Communication Misunderstandings, Non-verbal communication followed by The Observations of an Onlooker, and the next will be Questions!



Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - my brain would tell me not to eat dog or cat .. if I knew ... I'm sure I've eaten horse at some stage in my life ... and I've eaten Sweetbreads and all kinds of innards ... what's not to like - especially if you're starving. But you weren't so you could try something else!

Interesting photo shots .. the blue sneakers ...

Cheers Hilary

Sue Travers said...

Hilary, I know I've eaten some weird (to me) things on occasion, but mostly I'd prefer not to know ahead of time! Choice is a luxury not everyone in the world has and I'm conscious that I'm privileged to experience that.