Should we be eating things that lick themselves?
So, a guy walks into a restaurant in China, eats a cat for dinner, and later wonders why he’s sick as a mad cow?
That’s right, my fellow diners. Health officials have apparently traced this latest SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak to a restaurant in China where they serve cats. And by serve, I don’t mean serve as in, “Can I tell you about our specials, Mr. Cat?” I mean serve, as in cat on a hot plate with a little rice and Chinese beer on the side.
The victim-slash-cat-eater has been identified as a 32-year-old man from Guangdong (that’s short for City of Few Cats), who developed a fever Dec. 16 and was hospitalized four days later with serious pneumonia.
“What did you have for dinner last week?” doctors might have asked him.
“Let’s see … ” he might have wheezed. “I had a rat on Sunday, a dog on Monday … I think I ate a toad on Wednesday … and … oh, yeah … a cat on Thursday.”
And we wonder why we’ll all die from a disease one day?
Come on, folks. When are we going to finally learn not to eat things that lick themselves?
Closer to home, meanwhile, mad cow has reportedly made its way into a few Nevada County restaurants, although county health officials have agreed not to tell us which Nevada County restaurants.
That’s right, fellow diners. The people charged with making sure we don’t eat things that lick themselves too hard, or things that eat things that will kill us, have a gentlemen’s agreement that precludes them from telling us which restaurants or markets might be serving diseased critters.
Last week, we received a press release stating that three Nevada County restaurants had received, and probably served, meat from a suspected mad cow.
“Which restaurants?” we asked, thinking that our readers might want to know.
“We can’t tell you,” said the county health official.
“Why not?” we continued.
“Because we have a memorandum of understanding with the state and feds stipulating that we won’t tell you,” continued the health officials.
“Why not?” we asked again, starting to feel like the parent of a 5-year-old child who won’t tell you where the car keys are.
“Because we don’t think it would serve much of a purpose,” the health official essentially explained.
NOT MUCH OF A PURPOSE? How about death? From what I’ve read, it’s no fun dying from mad cow disease. It hurts. It makes your brain explode and your eyeballs bulge. How about that for a purpose?
I managed to trace down this official “memorandum of understanding” and it reads exactly like you’d expect a memorandum to read that was written by a bunch of bureaucrats who should be fed nothing but infected cats for dinner.
Here’s the first sentence from that memorandum:
“This MOU specifies that FSIS will share proprietary distribution lists of recalled product with … .”
What? These are the same government people who are supposed to be watching our meat?
In other words, rather than name the three restaurants with bad or mad cow, they’d prefer to screw all of the restaurants by forcing would-be diners to guess, or stay home and eat cats instead.
Fortunately for western Nevada Countians, the three restaurants in question were in Truckee. Unfortunately for western Nevada Countians who have eaten in Truckee recently, officials still aren’t being specific.
When pressed again Thursday to name those three restaurants, Dr. Ken Cutler, county health officer, again refused to do so. “In this case, there is no more useful information that would have significant impact on public health,” he told our reporter.
I suppose he’d reconsider that position if a few of us diners looked in the mirror tomorrow and noticed that our eyeballs were bulging out of our sockets and our tongues were drooping down to our knees.
On the other hand, I can’t help but feel a sense of responsibility in all of this. There’s a saying that we get the government we deserve. There’s another that says we are what we eat.
From my limited understanding, mad cow is a result of some bovines being raised on a diet of bovine brains and other bovine body-part shavings. There was a cult movie with that same kind of theme called “Soylent Green,” where people were turned into cracker dip when they died in order to feed other people.
It stands to reason that if you go to a restaurant and order cat or dog, you probably should expect to get sick or die, or both. I tell my dog the same thing every morning as he rummages among the dog waste littering the empty lot next door.
“Don’t eat that!” I shout at him, to no avail. “You’ll be sorry tomorrow!”
A twisted and confused circle of life controlled by a government memorandum of understanding that nobody understands.
Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears every Tuesday.
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