Erik Marcus has posted a great piece covering Gourmet‘s recent article about lobsters. In the magazine’s article, writer David Foster Wallace penned a lengthy piece about the cooking of live lobsters and the ethics associated with it, as well as meat eating in general. You wouldn’t expect a foodie magazine like Gourmet to print such an item, so Erik has examined the possible reasons why they’d risk alienating a large part of their audience. I’m going to try and pick up a copy of the magazine… one paragraph that Erik quoted really caught my attention:
Given the (possible) moral status and (very possible) physical suffering of the animals involved, what ethical convictions do gourmets evolve that allow them not just to eat but to savor and enjoy flesh-based viands (since of course refined enjoyment, rather than just ingestion, is the whole purpose of gastronomy)? And for those gourmets who’ll have no truck with convictions or rationales and who regard stuff like the previous paragraph [about a lobster’s attempts to get out of a pot of boiling water] as just so much pointless navel-gazing, what makes it feel okay, inside, to dismiss the whole issue out of hand? That is, is their refusal to think about any of this the product of actual thought, or is it just that they don’t want to think about it? Do they ever think about their reluctance to think about it? After all, isn’t being extra aware and attentive and thoughtful about one’s food and its overall context part of what distinguishes a real gourmet? Or is all the gourmet’s extra attention and sensibility just supposed to be aesthetic, gustatory?