No..you try and cook me and you'll pay..-photo by Dan4th (Flickr - see link base of page)
17th February 2010: A top Italian food writer has described how to cook a cat on national Italian television and been sacked for it. Beppe Bigazzi offered the recipe on the Italian version of the British television program Ready Steady Cook despite being encouraged during a commercial break to stop. In Italy the programme is called La Prova del Cuoco.
Bigazzi suggested that for optimum flavour the meat should be soaked in spring water for three days before being stewed. So we are talking about a cat casserole.
He said that cat casserole is a famous dish in his home region of Valdarno, Tuscany, Italy. He has eaten cat casserole many times and he says that cat meat tastes better than chicken, pigeon and rabbit.
Later, after the phone lines nearly jammed because of a flood of complaints, he said he was joking, but not that much!
Apparently, in the 1930s and 1940s in Italy, in the countryside around Arezzo people ate cat. And cat eating was not confined to Arezzo but in times of hardship it was routinely practiced. In the city of Vicenza the people are referred to as magnagati. This means, "cat eaters" in English. To differentiate rabbit from cat, butchers used to leave the rabbit's head on! It makes you want to become vegetarian.
So for people who want to know how to cook a cat, the answer is cat casserole and any casserole recipe will probably do as long as you soak the meat as described. But don't do it, please, as it is illegal in most western countries as it would probably fall under animal cruelty laws that are fairly uniform across Europe and north America.
Note: Before I go on, I wish to make it clear that I hate the idea of eating cat meat. Why? A lot of people think it is OK as it is no different to rabbit or horse or any other animal, they argue. But I disagree strongly. Cats are domesticated wildcats. They are human companions and not farm livestock that has been bred, raised and killed under controlled conditions to be eaten - although factory farming is horrible too. It is illegal to kill cat to eat it and that apparently applies to Italy as well as England (and I am sure in many other countries).
But cat eating is not that rare. Here are some more horrible examples for the record:
- 1529: Ruperto de Nola suggested how to cook a cat. This time is was spit roasted cat basted in garlic and olive oil. The recipe included the words, "Take the garlic with oil mixed with good broth so that it is coarse and pour it over the cat and you can eat it for it is a good dish".
- In Spain hunters have historically tried to sell skinned cat as a hare to avoid the generally agreement that it is unacceptable to eat domestic or wild cat.
- 2007: the Australians' hatred of the feral cat surfaced when at a cooking contest in Alice Springs feral cats were killed and cooked. Feral cat is tough apparently. I hope some Australians chocked on it.
- China: cat meat is eaten in certain parts of China. But China's middle class dislike the practice and have pressured the authorities to ban it. Proposals are being made, it seems, to criminalise cat eating with a penalty of 15 days in prison.
In book entitled, "Extreme Cuisine" By Jerry Hopkins, Anthony Bourdain, Michael Freeman, the authors mention that under the media spotlight poor people in Argentina in 1996 where reported as eating their own domestic cats.
They also referred to another Australian feral cat story (there are many, believe me) in which in the same year of 1996, it was reported that a certain John Wamsley, the managing director of an oraganisation called Earth Sanctuaries, recommended "pussy tail stew". He suggested people catch and cook feral cats. In parts of Australia it is legal to "ground shoot" feral cats.
In China cat meat is meant to be good for health and as the people become wealthier they can pay more attention to their health.
So there you have it, how to cook a cat. A concept that is abhorrent to me and I am sure all the regulars to this website but something that is quite widespread. One final twist. Euthanised cats both feral and domestic find their way into cat food and preparing that is an all together different way to cook a cat.