Taboo food and drinks are those that people avoid for religious,
cultural or health reasons.
Certain religions forbid the consumption of certain types of meat. For
example, Judaism prescribes a strict set of rules, called Kashrut, regarding
what can and cannot be eaten. Certain sects of Christianity also hold to these
or similar rules. In Islamic practice, the laws of Haram and Halaal dictate,
among other things, certain foods which may not be eaten. Hindus, Jains and
often follow religious proscriptions for vegetarianism.
Cultural taboos against certain forms of meat may be due to the species'
standing as a common pet. In addition, some meats are considered taboo simply
because they fall outside of the range of the generally accepted definition of a
foodstuff within a given society. This is not necessarily because the meat is
considered repulsive in flavor, aroma, texture or
Some authorities impose cultural food taboos in the form of law. This is
alleged to be dietary
persecution and possibly human rights abuse. For example, even after resumption to Chinese rule, Hong
Kong has not lifted its ban on supplying meat from dogs and cats, imposed in
Health reasons may also contribute to a taboo. For example, eating
undercooked pork has a risk of
trichinosis, while many forms of seafood can
cause extreme cases of food poisoning.
Medical food taboos come from professionals' advice that some food is known
to exacerbate an illness, make a person more vulnerable to one or impede
Cats are eaten in
parts of China. In Guangdong, China, cat is reportedly served along with snake
in a dish called "The Dragon and the Tiger". In desperate times, people have
been known to resort to cooking and eating cats, in places where it is otherwise
not usual to do so, as it occurred in a poverty-stricken shanty town in Rosario,
Argentina, in 1996 (though the much-advertised cat meal was later revealed to
have been set up by media from Buenos Aires).
Cats are also used to produce medicinal potions such as Korean "liquid cat",
a remedy for joint pain made by boiling cats with spices, and for their fur
which is used to make fur coats and other fur clothing.
Cats are sometimes confused with
civet cats. This has led Americans to accuse some Chinese manufacturers of using
cat fur in their products. Others worry that some traditional medicines imported
into the United States are of unknown animal origin. In 2001, a shipment of cat
into the United States from China were recalled and destroyed because they were
trimmed with cat fur, which had just been banned in the U.S.
Australian Aboriginal tribes have been known to hunt the
as a secondary source of meat. One tribe well known for this activity believe
this cat to be either indigenous or of ancient, non-European origin. However,
one recent DNA analysis has shown its genetic similarity to British shorthair
cats. Feral cats in Australia are regularly hunted, but not eaten, by
non-Aboriginals due to their being voracious pests. They are considered a danger
to native species. There is a small minority of scientists who contend the cats
are more likely to eat from rubbish dumps and other food sources provided by
The term roof-hare (roof-rabbit) applies to cat meat presented as that
of a hare, another pet used as a source of meat. Subtracting the skin, feet,
head and tail, hares and cats are practically identical. The only way to
distinguish them is by looking at the
processus hamatus of the feline scapula, which should have a processus
suprahamatus. Pasar gato por liebre ("to pass off a cat as
a hare") is an expression common to many Spanish-speaking countries, equivalent
to "to pull the wool over someone's eyes" derived from this basic scam. There is
an equivalent Portuguese expression Comprar gato por lebre, meaning "to
buy a cat as a hare".
Unmentionable Cuisine; Calvin W. Schwabe