Admitting a fondness for feline flesh, Italian chef Giuseppe 'Beppe' Bigazzi claimed, live on television, that stewed cat was "one of the great dishes of the Valdarno" (a valley in Tuscany). Holy Cat!
OLD GASTRONOME OF CAT MEAT
The TV gastronome Bigazzi, 77, is popular with millions of viewers of the publicly-owned RAI network in Italy, where he's been a presenter for 10 years. But, as he expounded on kitty stew (aka casserole-of-cat), saying it is "a delicacy," and "a succulent dish," which "many a time I've eaten its white meat," the network's switchboard jammed with calls from appalled viewers.
Ignoring signals from his co-presenter and TV producers to stop with the kitty talk, Bigazzi (pictured right) kept on talking. The secret, he said, is leaving the cat in a fast-running stream for three days. Cat in a thick sauce is "better than chicken, rabbit or pigeon," he said, reports the The Times (UK).
REFUSED TO APOLOGIZE
He should have shut-up and apologized. But he refused. The switchboard continued being inundated with complaints from viewers, animal rights groups and even government officials.
Oops! Wisdom and ethics don't always come with white hair and 77 years. As a consumer affairs journalist and author of Cooking with Common Sense, Bigazzi should known better. Actually, he should have had a hint of what was to come since he previously caused an uproar by boiling lobsters alive during the TV show. But, the arrogance of old cooks isn't new.
Killing cats is illegal in Italy, reminds Carla Rocchi, head of ENPA, the Italian Society for the Protection of Animals.
The Deputy Health Minister, Francesca Martini, says it is "absolutely unheard of for a public service broadcaster to tell people how delicious cats are to eat." Since cats are domestic animals they are protected by law, she said.
Martini recommended that the show's producers be investigated for "possible criminal offenses involving incitement to mistreat animals", according to the Times.
What's happened to Bigazzi? You guessed it -- the network suspended him indefinitely.
I WAS ONLY JOKING -- HA HA
The next day, after the live TV show, Bigazzi claimed that he had "only been joking," about eating cat and he was being "misunderstood," he said, according to ANSA news wire. Besides, he says, he was "merely describing an old-fashioned custom."
Stop, Dude, stop! You're embarrassing yourself. Nobody believes you now.
"Bigazzi, 77, who has been on the program six days a week for a decade, said on the air immediately after he made the comments that he expected 'racist' environmentalists would be up-in-arms over his appreciation of feline meat," says Bloomberg.
FOR THE LOVE OF CAT -- MEAT
Don't forget, Bigazzi isn't alone in his love for cat meat. Italians in cities like Vicenza historically have eaten cats. Citizens of Vicenza continue to be nicknamed 'magnagati", or cat eaters, in Venetian dialect. In some local butcher shops, rabbits are sold with their heads to assure buyers they are not cats.
And Italians aren't alone either. Cat meat is eaten in Switzerland, China, Vietnam and countries in Latin America, like Peru and Argentina.
DON'T EAT YOUR 'INTIMATES'
But, cats are domesticated animals now in most countries. Domestication is the adaptation to intimate association with human beings. It's immoral to eat your "intimates." How can you invite a little entity to share your home, often share your bed and share in love and then go and make stew out of it? Maybe, if you're an old Italian cooking diva who still needs a lot of attention.
In fact, Carla Rocchi, president of Italy's National Animal Protection Agency agrees, saying: "There's no limit to the idiocies people are willing to go to for attention," according to a statement on the agency's Website. It also says that Bigazzi's comments constitute an "instigation to mistreat animals, which is a crime."
TO READ "ITALY'S SOUP DU JOUR: HEAD OF BIGAZZI" CLICK HERE.
TO READ "WE NEED TO REGISTER ANIMAL ABUSERS" CLICK HERE.
by Sharon McEachern