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Thursday, 19 February 2009

Partridge (Πέρδικα)

Many moons ago, I came across PETA. This organisation claims that "Each (British) meat, egg and dairy consumer can claim responsibility for the abuse and deaths of 1000 animals. Each British meat, egg and dairy consumer also consumes antibiotics, saturated fat and cholestoerol, shit and filth, torture and misery, with each mouthful." I found this very blasphemous and untrue, so I wrote an email to PETA (on 27 October 2007 to be precise):

Dear PETA,
All the meat I eat with my family is reared in domestic environments (ie small family-run farms, or one-shepherd businesses), so that the cruelty that you depict in your FREE VEG STARTER KIT could not possibly be taking place; only the salughtering is 'cruel' simply because slaughtering is cruel in any way that it takes place. What do you think of people raising a few chickens in their back yard and using the eggs in their daily diet and the meat on a less frequent basis? Sounds to me that they're doing what people have been doing for many centuries since prehistoric (hu)man became less nomadic (ie feeding themselves sustaibably).
Here is the reply I got:
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with PETA.

We appreciate the opportunity to respond. While PETA is willing to applaud any steps that farmers and ranchers take to improve the welfare of the animals for whom they are responsible, we also know that there is no truly humane way to "harvest" food from animals. The sheer number of animals required to feed (America's) current meat habit, for example, make individual attention to their wants and needs impossible. For us to promote the purchase of
any kind of meat would imply that we endorse the use of animals for food 'production', instead of recognizing that animals deserve consideration of their own best interests - regardless of whether they are useful to humans. Like us, animals are capable of suffering and have interests in leading their own lives (?@#^&$^!@ - I added this); therefore, they are not ours to use for food, clothing, entertainment, or for any other reason...

Ultimately, there is the simple moral principle that we do not have the right to manipulate and kill animals for our own purposes. Animals do not belong to us, and their lives are just as precious to them as yours is to you or me. A society that eats animals will always view them as possessions, products, and commodities, as opposed to individuals with feelings, families, and friendships. And as long as people view animals as objects, widespread institutionalised abuse is destined to continue.

The best thing anyone can do to help animals is to not eat them. We have so many choices as consumers today that there's simply no reason to continue to rasie and slaughter animals for food. I hope this helps explain our 'radical' position - to compromise it would be a betrayal of both the animals and our members. Thanks again for writing and for your concern for animals.

What I do know is that rabbits kill their young and chickens clumsily break their eggs - is this how animals keep their numbers in check??? What do cows do if they never get milked? Advertise as nurses for orphaned calves? Just wondering...

Strictly vegan eaters have serious problems keeping their hair on their head (poysanal comoonicayshin), as well as having it discolour and lose its shine. Is it possible to be strictly vegan from birth (apart from mother's milk)??? I'm completely and utterly doubtful. Try reconciling this with the fact that no traditional society is strictly vegan. 'Nuff said.

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My typical understanding of a partridge was the familiar one, that they all appeared in pear trees at Christmas. Little did I know that one day, I would end up cooking partridges that my husband had hunted on the very island we live.

partridge kapama

In Crete, hunting in the wild (as opposed to organised game parks) involves hare and various species of migrating and resident birds. The earlier you hunt, the more you are likely to catch. At this point in the winter, most birds will have settled in warmer areas, and won't be passing through Crete so readily as it is quite cold and wet. Each season is very short so hunters have to be on the ready when it starts. This year, my husband, an avid hunter, caught three partridges during our mini-break in Paleohora. After removing the feathers and innards, they were placed in the freezer, where we almost forgot about them, until now when I was doing a fridge clearance.

In its unfeathered form, partridge looks like a miniature sized chicken. It also tastes like chicken, but has a very different smell, something like a woody forest. The breast meat is very tender compared to the wings which are full of tendons. The three partridges, halved and quartered, were cooked in a kapama sauce with green olives, served with fried potatoes and a garden fresh cabbage salad. They can also be cooked with orzo rice, similar to Maria's oven-baked kritharaki, or made into a tomato-based pilafi.

Cooking these partridges gave me the opportunity to cook, as Michael Pollan stated, "the perfect meal", where he challenges himself to cook something that he himself had hunted, gathered and/or grown. In this spirit, I can claim that everything (except the salt and pepper - naughty me, I could have used local sea salt given to me by a friend, and locally grown herbs) in the recipe was seasonally and locally hunted, and gathered or grown by my family, representing both the animal and vegetable (but not the fungus (kingdoms), costing me only the gas I used to cook it with, eaten by my family, and cooked by my very self. Perfect. And delicious.

Happy Tsiknopempti to everyone who celebrates it!

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