During our class on the 14th, two main topics stood out to me. First, was the discussion surrounding how westerners have biases about what is “normal” both in terms of food and medicine. I also found the discussion about the Tiger to be very interesting.
When we first started talking about the menus for the different Hox Zodiac animals, I was really surprised to learn that for some of the animal signs, you are expected to prepare a meal of that kind of animal, in a way serving yourself. This was a strange idea to me. As I thought about it, I realized from the Zodiac wheel I myself have only eaten four out of the twelve animals: Pig, Rooster (as chicken), Sheep (as lamb), and Ox (as cow). So the idea of preparing a meal of rat or snake was startling and outside of my normal. I was curious as to what a meal made of snake might look like, so I looked up images. There seems to be a large range of how it can be eaten, from fried (Figure 1) to soup, this was not really surprising, as many of the animals I eat are also prepared in multiple ways. As I thought longer about it I realized the reason for my immediate reaction was because in western culture in general, the idea of preparing snake or rat to eat is not something commonly practiced. When I put it into perspective, I understood that some of the animals that I eat from the wheel might be very strange to a different culture. In fact, for one of my other classes I was reading a book about a herding society in Mongolia where the thought of eating lamb brought tears to a woman's eyes (Fjn, 226). The differences in our cultures are what shape what we believe to be ‘weird’ or what we struggle to understand. This discussion pointed out to me how important it is to take ourselves out of the belief that our own way of life is the only one practiced.
As the discussion shifted from food to medicine, I found a similar pattern of a form of medicine different from what is typical in the west. Although, it was interesting to see that more and more people in the west are looking at these non western practices and reevaluating their original beliefs that they were inferior. Especially in terms of acupuncture (see bibliography for link) and yoga, many people are starting to recognize the benefits of these practices and are no longer writing them off.
The second conversation I found most interesting was the discussion about tigers. We remarked on how pervenlant and popular tigers suddenly were in the media. For example, in the form of the Netflix show “Tiger King” (Figure 2) as well as the discussion surrounding the tiger in the Bronx Zoo who contracted COVID-19 (see link for news source). Concerning the show “Tiger King,” I found the interactions these people, both running the tiger ‘zoos’ as well as the patrons have with these captive wild animals to be quite disturbing. On my social media I saw many people upset about the Bronx Zoo tiger having been tested (Figure 3, 4, 5) and am curious as to what my classmates think of that. I found the recurring pattern of the tiger to be interesting and wonder what it could mean.
Figure 1. Fried Snake.
Figure 2. Joe Exotic, “Tiger King,” pictured with a tiger.
Figure 3. Screenshot of a tweet discussing the COVID-19 testing for the tiger at the Bronx Zoo.
Figure 4. Another example of a screenshot of a tweet discussing the COVID-19 testing for the tiger at the Bronx Zoo.
News article about the Bronx Zoo tiger.
Fijn, Natasha. Living With Herds: Human-Animal Coexistence in Mongolia. “10 The Sacred Animal.” pp. 221–236. Cambridge Univ Press, 2017.
Chan, Kara, Judy Yuen-man Siu & Timothy K. F. Fung (2016) Perception of acupuncture among users and nonusers: A qualitative study, Health Marketing Quarterly, 33:1, 78-93, DOI: 10.1080/07359683.2016.1132051