Guidebook Eating dogs is not necessary

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Eating dogs is not necessary

No one knows exactly when the Vietnamese started eating dog, notes Kate Hodal in The Guardian, “but its consumption – primarily in the north – underlines a long tradition.” Activists claim up to 5 million of the animals are eaten every year. “Dog is the go-to dish for drinking parties, family reunions and special occasions … it is said to increase a man's virility, warm the blood on cold winter nights and help provide medicinal cures, and is considered a widely available, protein-rich, healthy alternative to the pork, chicken and beef that the Vietnamese consume every day.”

“The practice of eating dog meat has alternately puzzled and appalled many Westerners,” writes Elisabeth Rosen in The Atlantic. In fact, visitors seeking dog meat in Hanoi “are more likely to find gia cay, or ‘fake dog,’ which consists of pig feet stewed in an aromatic broth of turmeric, galangal (a root similar to ginger), shrimp paste, and fermented rice.” 19th-century accounts record that dog “was considered a luxury in northern Vietnam,” and when Vietnam was divided in 1954 and many northerners moved to the south “they brought their eating habits with them.” But many locals there viewed the practice with distaste, “to such an extent that the phrase ‘northerners eat dog’ has … “a put-down connotation.”

The meat is tough, dry and gamey, writes Andrew Taylor in Traveller, “reminding me of overcooked kangaroo.” But it costs only 60,000 dong, or $2.75 -- the price of a cheap tin of pet food -- “and tastes far better washed down with beer.” The chef “slowly rotates the skewered dog to ensure it crisps evenly,” and at a table nearby “a group of young men and women sit watching their hotpot bubble away, the soup and vegetables drawing in the flavour of the hind leg floating in the broth.” When the mixed grill finally arrives he tucks into “dog minced with green beans and onions and wrapped in a leaf … it's smoky and tender.”

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