Hunting lion in the Italian Market


Would you eat burgers made from the king of beasts?

Men first feel necessity, then look for utility, next attend to comfort, still later amuse themselves with pleasure, thence grow dissolute in luxury, and finally go mad and waste their substance.Giambattista Vico

Is this a great country, or what? A friend of mine walks into a butcher shop in Philadelphia’s Italian Market today and witnesses a customer haggling with the shop owner about a cut of meat. The shop stocks exotics – everything from ostrich to emu – but my friend is surprised to realize the meat being discussed is lion.

The customer leaves in a huff. It turns out he wanted to buy a lion’s head but, in order to get the head, he would have had to order and purchase an entire lion carcass – a lot of meat.

But why would anyone in America want to eat a lion’s head, or its other parts? Did the customer want the head for his wall, to pretend he was a big-game hunter?

I googled an old Philadelphia Weekly article. It seems at least one local restaurant/bar used to include lion meat on its menu, but stopped doing so because of protests from vegans and environmentalists, or because lion is too expensive to stock, or doesn’t taste very good, or all of the above. The writer of the story hit a few dead ends when he tried to find out who “farm-raises” lions for slaughter and sale to purveyors.

Help me if you’re out there, lion meat fans. Does eating it make you feel dashing? Is it like Viagra without a prescription?

I don’t expect much feedback on this. If I found an American who eats lion and asked him why, I’ll bet his honest reply would be “Because I can.”

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