Whoopie Pie, Blueberry Pie, Puppy — Mainers Discover the Battle for Dinner
Dog. It’s what’s for dinner.
Or it was 9,400 years ago. Which isn’t all that old, when you consider the age of some of the stuff in the back of my refrigerator. I’d throw the gunk out if I wasn’t concerned about its possible scientific value. How else are scientists thousands of years from now going to know that back in early twenty-first-century Maine, people’s diets consisted primarily of gunk they carefully aged in the depths of refrigerators?
But back to eating dogs. A University of Maine researcher has discovered that ancient humans living in southwest Texas weren’t adverse to devouring the family pooch. Samuel Belknap III learned this by probing through prehistoric poop to find fragments of dog bones.
And you think you have a lousy job.
This scientific breakthrough is important because it gives dog owners, such as myself, a new item for discussion the next time they’re dealing with Fido’s errant behavior.
Let’s suppose you’ve just returned home from a pleasant dinner party with friends, only to discover that the snow boots you left in the front hall are full of a yellow liquid that looks and smells suspiciously like the urine of canis familiaris. I can tell you from personal experience that talking about this with your dog in calm, rational terms produces negligible results. Hogan, the likeliest culprit among my three mutts because he’s the only one with a demonstrated capacity to produce enough pee to fill a size-eleven boot, wagged his tail and wandered off in search of something that didn’t belong to him that could be chewed up.
But what if, instead of trying to explain my dismay at finding my footwear piss-soaked, I’d taken a different approach, one that involved a roasting pan and a butcher knife? Cruel? I assure you I’d employ only the most humane methods of converting the little bastard into pot roast. Culturally incompatible? So is sushi, and look at how sophisticates pretend they like that stuff, even though it closely resembles the gunk in my refrigerator. Besides, dog is eaten in lots of cultures, and very few of them have problems with animals whizzing in their snow boots.
Before I get swamped with e-mails from animal-rights activists, let me hasten to state I have no intention of eating Hogan. (Unless I’m really, really hungry.) I merely intend to use this valuable research on the dog-eating habits of early Americans to remind him of the ancient bonds between his species and mine, bonds that go beyond companionship, herding the sheep, and guarding the house against intruders. Not that Hogan has ever shown the slightest inclination toward the latter two.
I just think it might be worthwhile to inform him that dogs have been eaten in such literary locations as Maxim Gorky’s play “The Lower Depths,” in actual places as diverse as modern China, ancient Siberia and Belgium, as well as in Slate, the online magazine.
Given that rich history, I’ll be telling Hogan, we have to keep an open mind about the subject, particularly as it relates to miserable curs who urinate in their masters’ boots.
Of course, there’s always the chance that Hogan would turn the tables on me – literally. From the days of hapless Neanderthals surrounded by packs of scrawny proto-pups to relatively recent Nick Lowe songs, there’s some precedent for dogs eating people. I have no doubt that Hogan, who’s as indiscriminate about his menu options as the average fast-food burger customer, would have no qualms about having me for dinner if the opportunity presented itself. Come to think of it, I’ve occasionally been awakened at night to find him standing on my chest staring into my face with an expression that indicated he may have been considering taking a bite out of my nose, just to see if I was really sleeping or had quietly passed away and ought to be eaten before I spoiled or was stuffed in a Tupperware container and consigned for all eternity to the back of the refrigerator.
Speaking of food products, the Maine Legislature would feed a lot of dogs for a long time. But that’s not why I brought up that august body. They fell into my stream of consciousness (where they’re in danger of drowning) because state Rep. Paul Davis of Sangerville has introduced a bill to designate as Maine’s official state dessert the whoopie cushion.
Uh, wait, that can’t be right.
I’ll refrain from making any references to old farts honoring old fart jokes, and move breezily on to correct the previous statement. It’s not whoopie cushions, of course, it’s whoopie pies.
The whoopie pie was invented in Maine in 1732 by a baker named Adolphus Whoopie, who was searching for a dessert that would complement a meal of baked dog.
Claims that the pastry was first concocted in Pennsylvania can be discounted because I’m not being paid to write anything nice about Pennsylvania.
Davis’ whoopie-pie measure has provoked some consternation on the part of blueberry pie eaters (the blueberry pie was also invented in Maine in 1712 by Josiah Blueberry Pie, who was actually trying to invent the whoopie cushion). Other contenders for the official-state-dessert title include the sugar-glazed potato doughnut and the chocolate-covered lobster, both of which were invented by University of Maine researchers after spending too much time examining ancient human poop.
I have to confess I’m not much of a fan of whoopie pies, but then, I’m not much of a fan of many of Maine’s official state designates, such as our soft drink (Moxie), our herb (wintergreen), or our soil (Chesuncook).
Our official state bird and cat are OK with me, though. I have an excellent recipe for chickadee-stuffed Maine Coon Cat.
I’m off to obedience school with Hogan. Menu suggestions and tips on getting the funky smell out of my snow boots can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.