Culinary Arts

June 22, 2006
By Paul Dion, STL

I have decided to lighten the week up a little bit and ask you a question that you perhaps have not thought about too much. Don't fool yourselves, this is a religious question.

There are certain corners of the world in which one of the favorite picnic "pièces de résistance" is canis domesticus = dog.

Now I know that some of you are familiar with the culinary preparation of rattlesnakes, pythons, alligators, kangaroos, deers, bears, geese, quails, squabs, whales, lobsters, swordfish, mahi-mahi and perhaps a few more.

The challenge here is to spend a few moments with "man's best friend" in your imagination and either condemn or support the practice of taking "Rex", "Fifi", "Buster" or "Shoo-shoo" to a wok.

Do not address this challenge on the spur of the moment. Read the above text carefully before you begin your answer. You may find some slick hints as to how to attack your esposé.

Last clue: There is a famous Biblical passage that is invoked when this question comes on the table.

Please feel free to post your comments. We will publish all of them so we may all learn from one another. And in a few days I will post my theological wrap-up explaining the Catholic doctrine behind this week's burning question.

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )


  1. Anonymous8:19 AM

    My dear departed father always told me that as a child growing up on the farm, his family never named any animal, not cat, not dog, not cow, etc. because you never knew when that animal would be food on the table, and he was being serious. No animal was sacred, not even pet dog. I on the other hand, until recently had pigs, ducks, chickens and never ate a one nor their eggs. My dog is my companion, not just my pet, and I would never eat her, no matter what. But I also know that some countries think Americans are a little mad because we eat embryo e.g. chicken eggs. And there are people in the world who eat monkey brains, I feel it is a matter of culture and taste. The passage in the bible If I remember talks about eating animals with cloved hoofs or eating the bottom feeders of the sea (Shrimp) I think.

  2. Anonymous8:19 AM

    Hello Paul:
    I would say I am opposed to serving up "man's best friend" at the table. If I understand God's message to us in Leviticus 11:27) we are told that a beast with paws is unclean for us, and dogs have paws. If I am to honor Our Lord's instruction to us, my choice is clear. Thank you.

  3. Anonymous8:20 AM

    I am very fond of my dogs but they go into the pot before my children starve. The kids might get hungry some but not starve. See Acts 10: 9-16

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  5. Anonymous8:27 AM

    By Paul Dion, STL

    Very good stuff. I like the way that you all understand our relationship with the world and the Creator.
    I am not an expert at this, but I am going to try to present a couple of spiritual throughts to you all about
    the subject of "man's best friend".

    It has been recently communicated around the world that dogs seem to have come into domestication through the wolves of the northern hemistphere between 20 and 30 thousand years ago. The discussion goes on about whether the wolves chose us or we chose the wolves. It follows from that, that the Bible (3,000 years old +/-)is about 17,000 years into the domestication process of the wolf into dog.

    It also follows that Genesis was written when dogs and cats (already domesticated in China) were already pets. Is it any wonder then that the cloven hoofed animals of the fields would be "fare" game while the pets would not?

    Genesis tells the interesting story abour Adam naming all the animals and plants, a very significant delegation of authority from the Creator. It is meant to confirm the dominion of human beings over the rest of creation.Allow me to say, that DOMINION does not mean abusive exploitation. It means management, stewardship and in some theological essays you may also find that it is is related to "procreation." That is a spiritual concept a little too far afield from this short meditation. Suffice it to say that humans have the right and the delegation
    contribute to the shaping of the universe in cooperation with God, while no other creature has that prerogative.

    If you go to the Old Testament (The Torah) you will find many dietary laws, some of which the Jewish people observe to this day. When Jesus came, He came, not to abrogate the law, but to complete it. Part of Jesus' influence on us is the change of the dietary laws of the Torah. (Torah = 5 first books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch)

    We have a confirmation of this in the passage refered to in Dennis' response, Acts, 10:9 - 16. This is a very powerful story about a discussion between Peter and Paul. During the discussion Paul tells Peter that unless he starts to eat the good that is presented to him by the Gentiles, he will have no
    influence on them to follow the new way of Jesus. Paul tells Peter that filling people with the Good News requires a Good News outlook on life. The dietary laws have been completed and Peter has to respond to the grace of God through Jesus and open his mind, heart and soul to the new reality.

    Peter has a vision in a dream that very night, before the meeting with the Gentiles the following day. He sees all the delicacies of the Gentiles and the message is, "take and eat."

    I personally take this revelation to derive directly from the daring challenge of Jesus, as quoted in St. John's gospel, "Unless you eat my body and drink my blood you will not have eternal life."

    Two more quick thoughts:

    Dogs and cats are pets throughout the world. I have not been throughout the world, but I can say this without fear of error...people around the world, even in societies where dogs and cats are eaten as food, do not eat their pets. They eat animals that they feed and raise for what they are intended to be, stew meat. That's understandable.

    The man who won the race to the South Pole, Roald Amundsen was an adventurer and an explorer. The Englishman, Scott was an engineering mind. Amundsen started to 52 dogs and the proper number of sleds. He kept the sleds evenly loaded and the dogs well fed as they race for the pole. When they got there, they planted the Norwegian flag, brought the sled loads down to the minimum, turned around and started back. The dogs became the staple of the expedition and all the humans made it back in good health. The story doesn't say how many dogs were left.

    Both of these last thoughts are about dominion. Think of the water buffalo and the elephant. Both can crush a human easily. Yet they are both gentle workers. I often think of the anthropomorphizing of cats and dogs by their owners and by the pet food producers as an abuse of dominion.

    There are many examples of moral dominion over animals just as there are many examples of abusive exploitation. Some of the exploitation we encounter affects human beings adversely as well.

    I offer these considerations of the "Burning Question" as an example of how simple questions can generate some far-reaching thoughts.