For the sake of diplomacy and good relations, and occasionally a political point, royals and their representatives have regularly chomped on foods not usually found in their pantries. But few have taken to the task with quite the enthusiasm of the governor general of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, as, this week, she cut out the heart of a slaughtered seal and ate it raw.
The Queen’s representative in north America was visiting an Inuit community in Nunavut, in the Arctic, when a couple of dead seals were laid out before her in symbolic defiance of a looming EU ban on seal products. With an ulu blade, a traditional knife, she bent over one of the freshly killed seals and cut along its body. After firmly slicing through the flesh and pulling back the skin, she turned to the woman beside her and asked for a taste. “Could I try the heart?” she said.
A chunk of the organ was duly cut out and handed to Jean, who took a few bites, chewed on it and pronounced it good.
“It’s like sushi,” she said, according to the Canadian Press news agency. “And it’s very rich in protein.”
As she wiped the blood from her mouth and fingers, she said she had done it in solidarity with the Inuit, including those in the community she was visiting, at Rankin Inlet, which is home to 2,300 people. They claim their way of life is threatened by the EU ban on seal products.
First off, in general I endorse the practice of solidarity with first nation people of any land. I may or may not snack on whatever may be historic goodies. Although – let’s face it – I love Haggis, eh?
Second, unless bureaucrats figure out how to enforce the vegan religion upon the species I belong to – one which evolved as an omnivore – I intend to eat any animal protein I prefer as long it’s not an endangered species.
It’s always the eyes which gets the vegetarian left. I think. But, I’ve always been able to look a cow in the eye and still eat the occasional hamburger. If I grew up in a seal-hunting-and-eating tradition, I’m certain I’d find it as tasty as some of the other sea critters I consume regularly in chowders or frutti de mare.