Regarding taboos

As I was writing my previous blog post about my favorite foods, I was thinking how cool it would be to photographically document the whole Greek Easter Lamb experience the next time I am in Greece for Easter (I’ve missed it the last 10 years abroad). I would like to document how you find the right animal, how you kill it, how you remove its blood, how you remove its skin, how you season it & stuff it and how you roast it. My father knows how to do all that, and he is the de-facto cook of the family for the particular feast.

And then, I snapped out of it. There’s no big, fat disclaimer that I can put up there that will make it alright for me to publish images of how to kill an animal on an easily reachable page on the Internet (usually it’s a young goat or sheep). Most westerners are cool to buy parts of the animals at a grocery store, but from the moment someone shows HOW to prepare an alive animal for a feast from A-to-Z, suddenly they hit the wall with these (newly created) taboos of the Western World (instead, the Eastern World would salivate looking at the pictures). You see, up to 50-60 years ago, it would even be “ok” to show how to prepare an animal in USA and UK too. But after the WWII, things in the minds of people changed. Whatever was normal before, suddenly stopped being so. And whatever was wrong before (e.g. easily accessible pornography), now it’s normal. Heck, even the 60’s ultra-short skirts that women used to wear back then could invite a fine today for indecent exposure!

Taboos, ideas, ideals, all change through the years, so I would prefer if people were more open to other ideas instead of hitting the wall every so often. Open thinking is important.

For me, this food is associated with some of my best memories in life, the whole Greek Easter experience (the Easter for Greeks is more important than Christmas — Jesus came to Earth not to born but to die, you see). If I was to document the whole experience –no matter how cruel that might look to some animal lovers; I do love animals too btw– the truth is, I would do it because this is a tradition that’s fading away and I want to preserve it. And the Internet is a great way to preserve information and even teach things. Put yourselves in a situation of war or… surviving a plane crash in an island in the Pacific, where you have to hunt and kill in order to find food — 99.9% of the people today have no idea how to survive out there!

So, I need not any random reader to tell me that “graphically showing how to kill an animal is gruesome and cruel”. Because as he/she might feel insulted by the imagery, I would feel insulted in the exact same way for not being allowed to document an important part of the Greek Orthodox celebration that’s going on for centuries (no, I am not religious, but it IS tradition). Whatever might feel insensitive to some, it’s normal to others.

8 Comments »

Adam wrote on May 28th, 2007 at 1:51 AM PST:

Nah… it’s FAR from Taboo to post that. This is the Internet, you can find directions for anything. Here’s proof.


l3v1 wrote on May 28th, 2007 at 2:25 AM PST:

People are just very good at mimicking some weird posh-ness, take on nice clothes, over-care for their looks, go to restaurants more frequently then people in some other countries wash their hands, and just feel insulted when needed to do some “dirty” work, even if that “dirty” just seems normal stuff to a very large number of perfectly sane and normal people.

This don’-kill-animals-just-eat-them :) attitude is so wide spread these days that if I’m in other countries I just don’t ever tell to anyone about how we (i.e. in my family and many relatives and so many more people I can’t even keep track) used to kill chicken, pigs, goats and rabbits back in the days. When I was a kid my father used to grow dozens of rabbits at my grandparents’ place, and once a year they killed about half of them, their meet went in the fridge and into our stomachs, same goes for pigs mostly during the winter between Christmas and New Year.

Not many things are better than a huge family reunion with gorgeous food, fantastic drinks, jokes and stories, which are just a natural companion to all these events.

I just laugh out loudly every time I see someone eating a 500g steak and pitying those poor animals which are murdered by those bastards…


Dimitar Uzunov wrote on May 28th, 2007 at 9:19 AM PST:

I’m sure the westerners also have those kind of traditions but they abandoned them long ago. I remember watching the butchering of goats and kids (in the sense of small goats, not human children, It seems a lot of people don’t know the original meaning of the word) as I was little and I sure didn’t get a trauma or something. Not to mention chickens.. could you imagine all the chicken a family eats for a month these days running around?

In this blog post you can see the first step of preparation of pork meat, traditional Christmas ritual in Bulgaria. Its called “I butchered Ivanka“.

In fact this is by no way related to murder, because you murder out of hate or out greed, and no such things are felt when you kill an animal. Plus they are animals, for crying out loud. PETA and such organizations should be ashamed of themselves for not taking measures against cruelty against humans.


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Eugenia wrote on May 28th, 2007 at 9:47 AM PST:

Just 2 months ago there was an episode of “Jericho” where one of its sub-plots was a city-woman who was talking to a hen, trying to convince herself to kill the hen. You see, “Jericho” was a post-nuclear drama, so people were depicted as hungry. And instead of taking that hen and cut its head, she kept talking for 50 minutes to the hen before she actually managed to do it.

I have never killed anything bigger than a small fish in my life (it was sick so I put it out of its misery, a common action among fish-breeders), but if I must kill an animal in order for me or my family to live on, I would do it in a heartbeat.

I would not kill an animal if I could buy it off a grocery store though. As long as my parents are alive and continue the Greek Easter tradition, I would eat from their lamb. But I would never kill it myself – unless I truly have to in order to survive.


mikesum32 wrote on May 28th, 2007 at 11:06 AM PST:

As Ted Nugent would say “You can’t grill it until you kill it.”

I think it goes back to the fact that people tend to distance themselves from things they find morally wrong or just unpleasant. Like third world world poverty or suffering animals.


Memsom wrote on May 29th, 2007 at 1:31 AM PST:

I wouldn’t say butchering animals was a common thing on TV over here in the UK, but we do show it. I can think of at least 2 recent shows on TV that have shown it (one was a Gordon Ramsay show, the other a documentary) both showed the full cycle of animal butchery. I think your perception of the UK is slightly skewed. We’re no way as squeamish as the USA.


blag wrote on May 31st, 2007 at 2:51 AM PST:

Memsom, that reminds me that Jamie Oliver had a controversy over killing a lamb, I think, on his food show in Italy. They showed it in Canada though.


Acne Rosacea wrote on August 1st, 2007 at 6:38 AM PST:

Acne Rosacea

Having a way to limitless resources dealing with this is super.


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