Monday, December 15, 2008

How to Cook a Xoloitzcuintli

All the dog books talk about "breeding for function" but very few talk about one of the oldest functions of a dog -- food.

There are, of course, some exceptions to this oversight. Dogs In Britain, A Description of All Native Breeds and Most Foreign Breeds in Britain by Clifford LB Hubbard, printed in 1948, for example, notes that:

The Chow Chow too was for centuries well fattened with rice and eaten as part of the staple diet although as time advanced its meat became a delicacy rather than a commonplace. Until about fifty years ago, however, eating-houses catering for artisans and trades-people were daily serving up dishes of dog meat, and quite recently [to 1948] the flesh of dogs and cats was openly on sale in the Chinese butcher shops, despite the prohibition on such sales made about the year 1915. In Canton the custom is dying less gradually where the Buddhist priests frown on such an unwarranted end to the faithful servants of man.

The Phillipinos, particularly the inhabitants of the largest island of the group, Luzon, frequently eat the flesh of the native breed of dog. This breed is also fattened with rice and roast with a stuffing of local roots and spices. The American authorities do not encourage the custom, but it nevertheless survives in the mountainous hinterland.

While most folks shudder at the thought of eating dog, this is purely a cultural prejudice.

Lewis and Clark ate a lot of dog on their trip west, while Roald Amundsen ate his sled dogs during his expedition to the South Pole.

And yes, believe it or not, even the rural Swiss used to eat dog on occasion.

Dog was a common food source among some Native American tribes (it was taboo among others), and the Aztecs actually bred small gelded dogs for meat according to Hernan Cortes.

Today these dogs are known as Xoloitzcuintli or Xolo. Sadly, the breed books are devoid of recipes, but to correct for that oversight I have found this nice one for Atzec Chicken which, it freely admits, simply substitutes chicken (which came to the New World with the Europeans) for dog which was, no doubt, the "original recipe."

Atzec Dog

** 2 lg ripe tomatoes
** 4 to 5 chipotle chilies
** 1/2 cup dog stock
** 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
** 4 lg garlic cloves, finely chopped
** 1 lg white onion, thinly sliced in half moons
** 2 tsp ground cumin
** 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
** 4 to 6 cups shredded cooked dog, salt and pepper to taste

Heat a griddle over high heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Add the tomatoes and roast, turning several times, until blackened on all sides. Remove and let sit until cool to touch. Working over a mixing bowl to catch any juice, peel off the black skin, cut and remove any seeds. Coarsely chop into large chunks and add to a food processor or blender. Add the chilies and the dog stock and process until coarse.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. When hot, add the garlic and onions; sautée 2 to 3 minutes until soften. Add the tomato chili mixture, cumin and nutmeg and stir for 3 minutes to heat. Reduce heat to medium; add shredded dog and simmer uncovered, until, most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt.


compcat said...

I wonder if the prevalence of rabies in an area affected whether or not a population ate dogs? (On top of food resource concerns, of course.) There are areas in the world where they will suggest you get the rabies series if you pet the camp dogs.

Cooking might kill the virus, but you'd still have to butcher.

Anonymous said...

I'd much rather eat rat. In fact, we're currently embroiled in escalating hostilities in the war against marauding rats with fuzzy tails (aka squirrels) -- and wonder if you've got some good recipes for them?

If not, the dogs will be glad to add them to their raw diet.