Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Murr: It's What's For Dinner

I am proud to know someone from Newfoundland, a region whose existence has only been verified in my lifetime. My friend Sara is a repository of disturbing facts, among which is the revelation that people in her part of the planet eat Murrs. Or not murrs, precisely, but murres, the dashing and athletic sea bird with the dapper black-and-white outfit, shapely rear end and world-class sense of humor. Only they do not call them murres, but "turrs." It would seem odd to mispronounce a word like "murre" in this way unless you take into account that in Newfoundland, above-freezing is not their native temperature, and initial consonants can be unpredictable.

Besides, my own name only came about because the people I went to college with couldn't pronounce "Mary," so we've got no room to complain. Its spelling is thus arbitrary, and has been reinterpreted variously as Myrrh, Muir, Murre, Merv, Merle, and Sally. Nevertheless, it's mine now, and I'm not sure how I feel about being fried up with carrots and potatoes.

I do know that I'm not likely to partake of one myself. That's not out of any allegiance to murres, but because Sara says they're greasy and stringy. There is a bit of a taboo about eating your own kind, though, most places. It's frowned upon in America, for instance, which is a quite typical attitude in countries marked by obesity. The subject probably never comes up in your more gristly populations. But survey a random sampling of Americans and you're likely to find they think human meat tastes immoral.

Actually, the flavor is probably not the problem. Human meat is called "long pig" and is reputed to be delightful. There are contradictory texts, however. In the Bible, it is reported that during the famine in Samaria, two women agreed to boil and eat their sons, and the first woman did so, and shared the meat. But the next day the other woman did not pony up; so maybe it was not so palatable after all.

No one really knows how prevalent the long-pig cuisine is, world-wide. There is evidence of it in Neanderthal populations, where a good eyebrow roast could go a long way. In my youth it was depicted fairly often; the typical scene in 1955 A.D. (30 B.P.C.) shows a duo of white men, one of whom is usually Bob Hope, in a large stewpot attended by dark chefs whose accoutrements are made of disassembled skeletons. Nowadays it is rare to medium-rare to see such a depiction.

Some cannibalism was observed during the days of Christopher Columbus, and when Queen Isabella decreed that Spanish colonists were only allowed to enslave natives who were cannibals, their numbers spiked dramatically.

I'm probably not as averse to the practice as most people; at least I'm not willing to reject it out of hand. "How can you even think about eating a human being?" I've been asked, and I'm not entirely sure how to answer that, but I do know butter and salt would have to be involved. For all I know, I've already had some. When someone does all the cooking for you, you don't ask a lot of questions. The main reason I'm against it in general is out of self-preservation. I'd be the first to go. Some of my flesh is already falling off the bones. When people seem to be giving me their full attention as I rattle on about this or that, they might well be thinking: "mmm. Juicy. Good cracklins'."

47 comments:

  1. Ah... a good Murr dressed and ready for roasting. You crack me up!

    Thanks for the laughs to start my day

    julie

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  2. But, but...you're not kosher. Are you?

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  3. Down here in the deep south we have a mysterious bird we feast on as well, it's called a Snipe. Ever been on a Snipe hunt Brewster? In my day, it's where you took girls when you didn't have a back seat.

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  4. While Neandertal bones have been found that indicate butchery and possibly cannibalism, there is no evidence to definitively say that they were consumed by their own. Might have been those pesky, fatheaded newcomers... There is ample evidence for cannibalism in that set.

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  5. Cannibalism was quite prevalent in New Guinea until not that long ago. Which is why there are so many languages on that bit of real estate. Go over the hill and you stay for dinner. It was there also that Kuru, a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease affected mainly the women who were given the brain of the enemy to eat.
    "So I promise not to devour any Murres".
    "To seal the agreement, here's my hand".
    Thanks. I'll have it for dinner".

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  6. Hmmmm...interesting... a well fleshed-out article to say the least!

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  7. Now I'm wondering how to make gravy with the drippings...

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  8. Mmmmmmmm. Murr. With a side of fava beans. And a nice Chianti. Thanks for helping me start my day by crow-ing with laughter.

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  9. I prefer Puffins on toast myself. It's a shame they are protected. Have to sneak out in the middle of the night to get my fix.

    "Donner......Donner?....Party of one? Your spit is ready."

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  10. Let's see: I just got up, and already it looks like I've got some kind of proposition from Mr. Charleston, a different sort from the Blog Fodder, the Green Girl and Lisa, and some conditional interest from unmitigated me. Now I know how to attract people: you don't have to hang the pork chop. You have to BE the pork chop. I may not be kosher, but I'm blessed.

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  11. Can't eat ya. I'm afraid it would be a case of Murrder.

    Ouch.

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  12. What a delightfully perverse sense of humor you have, my dear. Speaking of gravy, I'd better look out if it ever comes down to that. A family could eat biscuits and gravy for breakfast for a month of Sundays off of a long (thick) pig like myself!!

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  13. "Oh my," she demurred. "I don't think I could eat any kind of bird."

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  14. dang dang dang Lisa beat me to the fava beans and Chi-yan-ti.

    You've discovered my ulterior motive for calling you Murre. I've had my eye on your cracklins since the day we met.

    Will you come to a bird festival and stand on a rock in the middle of a large body of water wearing that getup, please?

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  15. Julie, I think you and I and Lisa, whom I've never met, would get along grrrrr-eat. I will do something nuts at a bird festival for you if it doesn't involve standing on a rock in the middle of a large body of water. Anything but (glub) that. And do know that that outfit was for you, pudd'n'.

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  16. My partner's surname is Muir, which is invariably pronounced Murr in Northern Ireland. But Moore is also pronounced Murr, so there's always a few seconds of total confusion when she's asked for her name, and she always has to spell it out.

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  17. So, if Murre comes and stands on a rock in that get-up, should I come and stand behind her with a roasting tin?

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  18. This thread has taken a very sinister tern.

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  19. "It would seem odd to mispronounce a word like "murre" in this way unless you take into account that in Newfoundland, above-freezing is not their native temperature, and initial consonants can be unpredictable." Having lived in Newfoundland for the ten longest months of my life, I can attest to the fact that Newfs pronounce words as they see fit...I think it's frowned upon there to eat your fellow Newfs though...http://bit.ly/ezabjd

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  20. I have a friend in Newfoundkand who hales from the Faroe Islands. They eat puffins there. Don't know how they fix em - probably with puffin stuffin.

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  21. Won't eat nuffin but puffin with stuffin. And I ain't bluffin.

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  22. You must read In the Heart of the Sea, which is about the true-life story behind Moby Dick. I won't give it all away, but it does involve some digesting of the long pig, raw and even rotting. You'd enjoy it, I think. The book, I mean, not the flesh.

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  23. Hi Mary/ Sally/ Murr, Before you end up on somebody's plate, do you want to help me pick glasses? Oh - if we only lived closer.

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  24. Boy, I hope I never find out how people taste -- or satisfy anybody else's curiosity. I'm plenty squeamish enough about hamburger and liver.

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  25. Murr is a favorite dish among the Innuit people. Try not to stray to far norht... er Murr

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  26. You know what? There is a photo of a cat pooping on your blog. An action shot! That must have so stunk! My dear, I can't help but wonder if anyone has ever threatened to commit you or make you take a drug test. (I hope not!) Apparently those closest to you don't think you're totally whacked or wigged-out (AKA: "a danger to yourself or others!") However, do they ever get tired of all your nonsense? More importantly, do you? I would like to see your serious side. As well as you can write humor, going deep shouldn't phase you. The beauty of working for free is that you can do anything you want. I believe you need a challenge. Here you go: See if you can make me cry and I'll see if I can make you laugh. Deal? Must be non-fiction!

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  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  28. Donna, I TOLE you the cat likes people to watch.

    I do write serious stuff sometimes, not as often, and hardly ever here. But for now, I'll direct you to Thanksgiving 2009.

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  29. Nothing brings on an ear to ear grin like a sassy blog where the comments make me guffaw just as much as the original post did. Kudos, everyone. I think we all need to get together and have a Terminally Skewed Folks Who Stalk Murr gathering somewhere. I volunteer to bring puffin muffins.

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  30. And Julie, in penance for beating you to the fava bean comment, I'll stand on the aforementioned rock in that getup. Murr and her cracklins can stay on shore.

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  31. Finally, we have a quorum. As long as I can stay on shore. Who would have guessed that a tubby little girl couldn't float?

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  32. what a well seasoned posting! Just the right amount of savory exposition. However, the sweet ending is missing...perhaps some tart expletives? I will enjoy reading your stuff.

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  33. Hilarious! This is going back up on Facebook. Someone may have missed it.

    @ Mr. Charleston: Snipe hunting? Check this out. http://goo.gl/BzFtj

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  34. what a well seasoned posting! Just the right amount of savory exposition. However, the sweet ending is missing...perhaps some tart expletives? I will enjoy reading your stuff.

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  35. And Julie, in penance for beating you to the fava bean comment, I'll stand on the aforementioned rock in that getup. Murr and her cracklins can stay on shore.

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  36. Murr is a favorite dish among the Innuit people. Try not to stray to far norht... er Murr

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  37. You could ask the Donner party.

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  38. You must read In the Heart of the Sea, which is about the true-life story behind Moby Dick. I won't give it all away, but it does involve some digesting of the long pig, raw and even rotting. You'd enjoy it, I think. The book, I mean, not the flesh.

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  39. dang dang dang Lisa beat me to the fava beans and Chi-yan-ti.

    You've discovered my ulterior motive for calling you Murre. I've had my eye on your cracklins since the day we met.

    Will you come to a bird festival and stand on a rock in the middle of a large body of water wearing that getup, please?

    ReplyDelete
  40. I prefer Puffins on toast myself. It's a shame they are protected. Have to sneak out in the middle of the night to get my fix.

    "Donner......Donner?....Party of one? Your spit is ready."

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  41. Mmmmmmmm. Murr. With a side of fava beans. And a nice Chianti. Thanks for helping me start my day by crow-ing with laughter.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Hmmmm...interesting... a well fleshed-out article to say the least!

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  43. While Neandertal bones have been found that indicate butchery and possibly cannibalism, there is no evidence to definitively say that they were consumed by their own. Might have been those pesky, fatheaded newcomers... There is ample evidence for cannibalism in that set.

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  44. Ah... a good Murr dressed and ready for roasting. You crack me up!

    Thanks for the laughs to start my day

    julie

    ReplyDelete