I was invited recently to a "Paella y Toros" (Paella and Bulls) Festival in Mexicali, the capital city of Baja California, Mexico. Paella is a rice dish of Spanish origin (a European rendition of jambalaya for the uninitiated), and toros is, well, bulls.
As in bullfight.
I travel to Mexico quite often because of the nature of my job, so it was nice to cross the border as a turista, for once. With every visit I am blown away by the hospitality and the generosity of my Mexican hosts. The dishes were superb, although, I have to say, I had some friends (from the U.S. side) in the competition, and I think their dish was the best. The fact that our cook was a Mexicali native was just a mere technicality.
After the food and the music, we entered the nearby Plaza Calafia for the bullfight.
This was a first time for me. I do not take any great delight in needless suffering, and truth be told, I'm not much of a beef eater-- I barely touch the stuff. It was a strange moment. I wasn't sure what my reaction would be.
To my suprise, my reaction was enjoyment. And not a smiling, "hey this is great fun" enjoyment, but satisfaction in the honesty of the moment. I saw honor in the animal, in its life, and in its fight, and in its death.
Cradle to grave, the cow that finds its way into your cheeseburger or steak & eggs (name your flesh of choice) is destined for carnage. But it's treatment and torment is moment to moment. These bulls lived their lives fully (whatever that means for a bull), they fought valiantly for a brief and fleeting time, and met their end.
The next time you slip on your leather belt, or shoes, or jacket, or wipe that 'au jus' from your chin, ask yourself how this things came to be. Which is more cruel?
And how many of them had the opportunity for payback?
posted by James [link] | |