Monday, August 16, 2010

Whale Tail by Foodcrunch Contributor Adam Grosser

I ate whale and I feel awful. A week later, I can still feel it lodged in my belly like a small dark stone. I can hear it castigating me for my moral ambiguity. It's amazing that the tiny piece I swallowed - I'd be stunned if it was more than a couple of grams - has grown over successive days to feel like kilograms of guilt.

I suppose you need some context. We were in Iceland touring the beautiful countryside. After a solid half-day in the outdoors, we were all starving. Our guide brought us to a hotel near one of the most active and theatrical geysers. Their restaurant offered a large buffet of traditional Icelandic fare. I started well, with a plate full of salad, poached salmon, and a bowl of vegetable soup.

My 14-year old is a carnivore. We count our blessings every time something green is coaxed past her lips. In perfect and predictable form, she went straight for the meat table with a ravenous gleam in her eye. If she doesn't eat something approaching 6000 calories a day, she gets faint and woozy. Apparently it is difficult to stoke the fires of 122 pounds of fast-twitch muscle. I wouldn't know. The meat table was sagging from the effort of supporting mounds of roast pork and something dark that looked like beef. She asked the server what it was, and the reply was, "whale." Undeterred, my daughter speared a couple of thick juicy slices.

The concept of whale meat didn't bother her a bit. She didn't bat an eyelash. I suppose we're all products of our time, and while I grew up in the throes of "Save the Whales" she most certainly did not. By in large, the whale war has receded to a background issue save for the occasional news item regarding Japan, Norway, and Iceland. The public outcry is certainly not loud enough or frequent enough to make it through the media veil that blankets today's teenagers.

So there I am at the table. My daughter is devouring the whale with gusto. Her elbows are up, sawing quickly with her knife, and shoveling it home. She declares it delicious, and cuts off a small corner. She spears the morsel on her fork, and holds it across the table. It glistens redly in the overhead lights. Our guide shrugged his shoulders and said, "When in Rome..."

Against all my better judgment, I took her fork, chewed quickly and washed it down with some water. It was exactly like one of those reality shows where the people have to eat the fat, white, squirming grub to win the prize. Mustering the courage always involves closing the eyes, and I am no exception.

I have no idea what whale actually tastes like. I do know what the guilt tastes like, and it is bitter. I ate whale and I feel awful.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

happy to read~ thank you!............................................................

4:04 PM  
Blogger Performance Works said...

Wonderful topic for a guest post. My only sadness in reading it is, if you go through all the angst, don't you want to remember the taste? Reminds me of an old college roommate who REALLY wanted to taste lobster, but he kept kosher. Always seemed a shame...but in hindsight, I suppose that's the point.

12:28 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home