In studies of food and culture one fact crops up time and again: We do not like what the ‘others’ eat. We only like what ‘we’ eat. That is, until the ‘others’ become lovable to us in some way – acceptable companions at table. As the rhinoceros comes to the table to be eaten, it may be worthwhile to investigate who loves him before we cook him. Will he make the grade to be happily placed upon our tables for merry feasting?
The illustration above is from a 1959 children’s book titled ‘Rupert the Rhinoceros’. We can see that the dolphin loves the rhinoceros called Rupert but the story goes deeper than that. In this newspaper article from the Telegraph we learn of the tale of Rupert the Real Rhinoceros – who was for some time a family pet.
The question of whether one can eat a pet is a curious one. We eat things we love but not things we keep as pets, in most cases.
Other examples rhinoceros-as-dinner do exist. The Munster Family liked a bit of rhino for dinner – most particularly the tongue.
When it comes time for dinner, Lily is a whiz in the kitchen and always finds time to prepare a nice hot meal for Herman and family .Their mealtime included such delicacies as chopped lizard livers, cold rhinoceros tongue sandwiches, fillet of dragon, eggs (Gloomy side up), cream of vulture soup (Herman’s favorite), curried lizard casserole, rolled hyena-foot roast, bird’s nest stew (Grandpa’s favorite), warm ladyfingers with pickled frog ears, Dodo bird roast, cream of buzzard or iguana soup; cactus salad, and salamander salad with centipede dressing.
The New York Times describes a dinner in 1905 where rhinoceros was so devoutly desired that the menu was faked so as to deceive those so eagerly awaiting their bite of rhino.
The Canadian Camp had its annual dinner at the Hotel Astor last night, and the members and guests had a lot of fun despite scurrilous stories that the piece de resistance, which had been advertised as “filet of Bornean rhinoceros, sent from the Berlin Zoological Gardens with the compliments of his Royal Highness Prince Henry of Prussia,” was ordinary bear’s meat, or moose, or even plain, everyday beef.
The disillusionment must have been terrible.
The love of rhino can be very deep indeed. I leave you with a final story as example of a man who ‘glued himself to a rhinoceros’ buttocks’ to consider in the quest to decide whether rhinoceros is indeed loved (and if so, loved in the right sort of way to put it on the table for dinner).