Humor by Diane Farr

On my first night in Alaska I noticed my in-room dining menu offered "reindeer sausage" for breakfast. I actually winced reading this. I am sure the reindeer population probably needs to be controlled and that reindeer-meat distributors deserve to make money like all the other slaughtering industries, but as an ignorant New Yorker who grew up kind of believing that meat was "made" inside a butcher shop, I was not going to be trying any of those Vixen's legs.

Or so I thought until one sunny evening in Anchorage when I finished work at 11 p.m. and the sky was still bright. I was dreaming of scrambled eggs. When my food server asked for my meat preference to go along with the eggs, "reindeer sausage" just rolled off my tongue as if I had been eating it all my life.

I'm not at all clear where this burst of carnivorous bravery came from. I hadn't actually eaten anything with a face in nearly 25 years, until last year when I found myself utterly exhausted post-breastfeeding twins. Another former vegetarian mom turned me on to steak with the promise of more iron and more energy -- and it was as if she'd fired the starting gun at a 100-meter dash. Suddenly, I longed to eat beef at every meal for months.

But I have had a hard time, however, selling myself on quite a few animals since that first one. Cattle seem to be beyond my sympathies, but it took me multiple internal conversations to even try bacon. The idea of eating duck, lamb or deer still repulses me and yet here I was ordering Rudolph as a midnight snack.

Truth be told, I'm not entirely sure that I even knew reindeer were real animals until I saw them on my room service menu. I think I may have thought they were just part of a beloved folk tale that most of us in the Western Hemisphere hear when growing up.

But it turns out Rudolph is very real because a huge chunk of his thigh was delivered to me in a casing. And seeing it, I wasn't really sure I could cut it into bite-size portions and swallow it . . . and still live with myself afterward.

As my meal was getting cold, I tried to remind myself that I am a traveler. That is, not a tourist, but a student of the world who hopes to experience how others live. When I visited France as a teenager, I ate frogs. When I lived in Italy during college, I ate snails. In the Middle East as an adult, I ate things that are still unknown to me now but were, thankfully, covered in spice. And, once in Kenya, I was served zebra or lion cub or monkey brains or something that I can't quite remember but seemed both inappropriate and sad and unjust to eat.

That African dinner, at which I ate nothing but bread, has always haunted me. Not so much for the missed morsel in my mouth, but for fear that I seemed like a judgmental American looking down on my hosts and the feast they served me.

Now, sitting alone at a diner near the top of North America, I had nothing to prove to my own countrymen or the other visitors spending their summer here -- but I did wonder what the Inuit-American waitress was thinking as she watched me eat around her local delicacy.

I got that she probably just wanted to collect my plate and go home. But I was stuck, emotionally paralyzed in my breakfast booth. It feels wasteful to just leave the food -- even disrespectful to the beast that gave its life for my hunger. But it also seemed that taking that first bite would be like somehow giving up on this mythical guy and his whole entourage that I yearned to spy landing on my roof for more than a decade as a child. Or, more precisely, that eating this reindeer would forever close the door on the little girl I once had been.

With the sun about to set at midnight, I decided to eat the reindeer sausage anyway. I took one bite. And it was both spicy and sweet at the same time.

Humor & Satire

Humor & Funny Stories - Don't Order the Reindeer | Humor - Diane Farr

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