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Leading the fight for animal rights


Don’t boil me: A file picture showing a worker holding a blue lobster at a wholesale food market in France. Switzerland has banned the common culinary practice of throwing fresh lobsters into boiling water. — Reuters

Don’t boil me: A file picture showing a worker holding a blue lobster at a wholesale food market in France. Switzerland has banned the common culinary practice of throwing fresh lobsters into boiling water. — Reuters

LOBSTERS may no longer find themselves in hot water.

Well, at least not in the land of fondue, Heidi and the Matterhorn, so named because that’s where you honk when something’s the matter.

Switzerland has banned the common culinary practice of throwing fresh lobsters into boiling water as part of an overhaul of its animal protection rules.

“Live crustaceans, including the lobster, may no longer be transported on ice or in ice water,” the new rules began coldly. “Aquatic species must always be kept in their natural environment. Crustaceans must now be stunned before killing them.”

Swiss chefs were stunned by the new ruling. It seemed to be an oxymoronic notion not unlike “giant midget” or “jumbo shrimp.”

The Swiss were a phlegmatic lot of folks who knew a lot about secrecy but were less than hot on matters of detail. It could stem from their long tradition of neutrality: some even thought that Hitler’s first name had been Heil.

In that regard, the Americans were no better. At a college quiz show once, a contestant was asked this question. “Which great Indian’s last name starts with a G and was given the title Mahatma?”

His answer: Geronimo. Most of the audience thought he was right too.

But I digress. Again! We were talking about stumped Swiss chefs confronted by an inexplicable problem.

How, indeed, does one stun a lobster?

The problem was finally solved by Philippe, a Swiss chef of great virtuosity and remarkable political intuition.

He had noticed that lobsters, subjected to a recording of daily rants by Donald Trump were more than willing to fling themselves into the boiling water.

It was called death by fine dining.

The British didn’t see what the problem was. In fact, they were outraged that the Swiss felt outraged by the new rules. A democratic breed of people, British pub-owners didn’t just serve lobsters, they served anyone who would pay for the privilege.

The Brits prided themselves on their baking, a tradition that went back to the time of Queen Anne. The British knew they had fine bakers who could rise to the occasion because it was the yeast they could do.

Even Shakespeare was thought to own a bakery. But when reporters pressed him on the issue, he was vague on substance, merely saying, “it’s much a-dough about muffin.”

“Sacre bleu,” muttered the French with asperity. They thought that the British contribution towards world cuisine was minimal, give or take a potato chip or two. England had over 50 religions but only one sauce.

That was no way to eat, all of France knew. The French took their cuisine very seriously. For them, life was never too short to learn how to stuff a mushroom.

The Chinese weren’t amused by Switzerland’s sudden defence of animal rights.

They thought that eating defenceless animals preferably in a delicious sauce was a perfectly legitimate human right.

It was all part of the cycle of life, they argued. And they had a valid point too. Give a man a fish and he would eat for a day but give a fish a man and the fellow would eat for weeks.

Where was the fairness in that?

As for me, I’ve tried cooking. In fact, I generally cook with beer and sometimes I even add some to the food.

But I prefer to give it a miss. My friends tell me cooking is easy but it’s not as easy as not cooking.

I prefer to opt for takeaway. It’s just a click away.

Jaya , column , Speakeasy

   

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