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  • Victorian Urban Legend: Eating Fido December 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    dog food

    You all know the story. Young couple go out on their first date and decide to drive out to the twilight lake with a Kentucky Fried Chicken. They arrive and in the dark start chewing on the delicious white meat only for the girl to say that hers tastes strange. She takes a number of bites more and the young man, in exasperation, her complaints are dampening the mood of gentle seduction, turns on the light. They are horrified to find that she is eating not chicken but a deep fried rat. This is a classic modern urban legend… But what would be the equivalent of deep fried rat in the nineteenth century? Beach is not sure but his suspicion is dog meat: that is not meat for dogs, but meat of dogs, sold to humans as if it is mutton. Here are two stories from France that suggest this is a real possibility.

    A curious swindle on the part of number of butchers in the Clichy quarter is now being investigated. A number of people have lost their dogs in this neighbourhood lately, and yesterday several dozen dogs’ heads were found in drain. During the day the City Market Inspectors seized a quantity of meat exposed for sale in the public market as mutton, but which was really dog meat. The indignation and excitement among the public, and especially among the customers of the implicated butchers, were very great when the discovery became known. The butchers will probably be made an example of. Dun Eve Tel, 11 May  1895, 3.

    Here is a slightly earlier account with the same basic structure.

    Live dogs have been seen rather rarely in the streets of Roubaix, in the North of France, lately. The cause was not far to seek. A local butcher was in the habit of catching all the stray canine ‘friends of man’ which he found running about. After fattening them for a few days he slaughtered and skinned them, and then sold their flesh to his customers as ‘mutton.’ A Roubaix housewife discovered the trick, as the butcher in an unwary moment, had left some of the dogs-skins lying about his shop, where they were perceived by the woman, who gave the alarm. The butcher is now awaiting trial. Derby Merc, 4 Nov 1891, 8

    So urban legend or Fido at risk in France: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Beach confesses that he is suspicious of any country that eats horses….

    22 Dec 2015: LTM brings up the Jungle; Bruce T remembers ‘cat food’ A boyhood friend’s father was a scout/artillery spotter in France in 1944. When they got to the north of France they encountered segments of the population that were pro-German in certain areas. It was a tense situation as there were still pockets of Germans in the region trying to retreat in decent order. One day their little team is heading back to base after seeing nothing. They decide to to stop to get something to eat in a bistro in a small village that was relatively intact and in nominal Allied territory as they were sick of C-rations. The proprietor said he had nothing but some rabbit. They said that was fine, and  as the countryside was overrun with the animals, they didn’t think he was lying. They posted a guard outside and waited for their food. After the food arrived, the owner kept asking them how they liked their meal. They told the man it was good, especially under the conditions, and thanked him. He seemed very pleased and at the same time nervous. They thought it was because he was concerned he wouldn’t get paid. As they were eating, a member of the squad headed out to give the guard a plate and then to the alley to relieve himself. When he got to the kitchen door, he found several fresh cat skins. He ran back in yelling “That SOB fed us cats!” The others went to check it out, while our cat spotter kept an eye on the owner and his family. When the squad saw the skins they literally tore the place apart before order could be restored by the CO. It caused a huge commotion in the village and the squad came to find out the owner had been close to the Nazi’s who had pulled out a couple of days before. The villagers had left the man alone as there were still remnants of Nazi units in the area. They were afraid of reprisals until the region was further cleared of them. They saw the group of Americans and assumed they’d come to take the man. The CO of their little squad said “No” they weren’t after the man, but he would like any info on German units in the area, which the villagers were glad to supply. The CO told the villagers they could do what that wanted with the man or they could wait for the main army to catch up, as they didn’t have room for him in their Jeep and now had lot of work to do. What they did have in their Jeep was a satchel charge. The squad cleared the street and sent the bistro to kingdom come. The crowd then dispatched the owner and ran the rest of the family out of town in a hail of stones. The moral of the story? Never serve cats to Americans bearing explosives and guns.’ Thanks to Bruce and LTM!