This week I felt sorry for the Argentine local government official who was suspended for saying his council’s latest policy was to recommend that the poor eat the city of Cordoba’s 600 million pigeons. If you ignore the patronising nature of the statement, I can’t actually see what’s wrong with eating pigeon. After all, our ancestors ate pigeon as part of their diet for centuries. If you read any of Charles Dickens’ books or his personal diary, you will see that the Victorians not only munched pigeon at every possible opportunity, but viewed it as quality nosh. Losing our taste for pigeon probably goes a long to explaining why our cities are so blighted with thousands of the feral buggers now.
Pigeon is undoubtedly one of those food fads that come and go from generation to generation. For example, for centuries the ordinary folk of London survived and thrived on tons of locally farmed oysters, which were shipped up the river from Kent and Essex. Now, you’d be hard pushed to rustle an oyster anywhere in London, and we’re certainly not surrounded by oyster shell heaps, as Dickens was. In the late 1800s the poor of London were kept alive on oysters because they were so cheap and plentiful, and of course nutritious. It makes you realise that as the working class has got better off and been presented with many more choices, including a myriad of food choices, in many ways they’ve become nutritionally worse off, as many people have chosen to live on a diet of pizza and processed food.
Now don’t go writing in, taking me to task for saying the working class were better off in Victorian times – because we all know, they weren’t – but it’s interesting how when people are given choice and a lot of information to boot, they make the wrong choices. My grandparents were poor and couldn’t afford meat very often, let alone milk. As a child I can remember my grandmother coming to stay and watering down the milk on her cereal in order to make the milk go further. But, as a generation, they spent many hours growing their own vegetables, which not only was good exercise but also good tucker. And if the effects of a lifetime of smoking hadn’t got them, they’d have been as fit as fiddles.
Pigeon pie, anyone?
Hasta la vista, amigos…