There has been a lot of talk about Canadian Governor-General Michaelle Jean partaking of some seal’s heart on her trip to the North Inuit culture. Some people feel that she is great, for honoring the unique and important Inuit culture. Others think it is animal cruelty, or that this act is clearly not an accident, in that it was a political stunt to show solidarity with the Inuits and the rest of Canada in the face of the European Union ban on seal products recently.
I am not a politician, just a small-town Canadian man who has travelled a fair bit and who works with immigrants here in Toronto everyday. What do I think, dare you ask?
I say good for her. Whether it was political or not, she honored her guests with a very old tradition. To not partake of the meat would be offensive, unless you are a vegetarian.
When I lived in China for 2 years, I ate dog meat. More than once.
Will I do it again? Probably not. I love dogs and grew up with them as pets. But when in Rome, do as the Romans do. I had been ‘in-country’ for at least 6 months, and I lived in a really small community (Tongren city, Guizhou province). I tried my best to fit in. I spoke Chinese, ate their food and followed their customs where possible. In turn, they learned about Canada from me. I was an unofficial ambassador!
When I was in Thailand I ate a flash-fried cockroach to win a bet. I got a free ‘Leo’ beer!
When I was in Japan I ate horse sashimi. Yup. Raw horse! Even though I love Japanese food, I think that will be the last time I eat horse sashimi. Not my cup of tea. The point is, I try. I follow my hosts and I learn about the culture. As Canadians we expect our visitors and immigrants to do the same for us, so why not do the same for them, especially when the culture is right inside Canada!
Here is an article about our brave GG. http://www.vancouversun.com/Technology/Canada+Governor+General+criticized+eating+seal+heart/1633528/story.html
At the bottom there lists some other ‘politically-charged meals’ for others.