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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMoby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 65 The Whale as a Dish.
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Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 65 The Whale as a Dish. Post by :paule Category :Long Stories Author :Herman Melville Date :February 2011 Read :3225

Click below to download : Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 65 The Whale as a Dish. (Format : PDF)

Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 65 The Whale as a Dish.

That mortal man should feed upon the creature that feeds his lamp,
and, like Stubb, eat him by his own light, as you may say; this seems
so outlandish a thing that one must needs go a little into the
history and philosophy of it.

It is upon record, that three centuries ago the tongue of the Right
Whale was esteemed a great delicacy in France, and commanded large
prices there. Also, that in Henry VIIIth's time, a certain cook of
the court obtained a handsome reward for inventing an admirable sauce
to be eaten with barbacued porpoises, which, you remember, are a
species of whale. Porpoises, indeed, are to this day considered fine
eating. The meat is made into balls about the size of billiard
balls, and being well seasoned and spiced might be taken for
turtle-balls or veal balls. The old monks of Dunfermline were very
fond of them. They had a great porpoise grant from the crown.

The fact is, that among his hunters at least, the whale would by all
hands be considered a noble dish, were there not so much of him; but
when you come to sit down before a meat-pie nearly one hundred feet
long, it takes away your appetite. Only the most unprejudiced of men
like Stubb, nowadays partake of cooked whales; but the Esquimaux are
not so fastidious. We all know how they live upon whales, and have
rare old vintages of prime old train oil. Zogranda, one of their
most famous doctors, recommends strips of blubber for infants, as
being exceedingly juicy and nourishing. And this reminds me that
certain Englishmen, who long ago were accidentally left in Greenland
by a whaling vessel--that these men actually lived for several months
on the mouldy scraps of whales which had been left ashore after
trying out the blubber. Among the Dutch whalemen these scraps are
called "fritters"; which, indeed, they greatly resemble, being brown
and crisp, and smelling something like old Amsterdam housewives'
dough-nuts or oly-cooks, when fresh. They have such an eatable look
that the most self-denying stranger can hardly keep his hands off.

But what further depreciates the whale as a civilized dish, is his
exceeding richness. He is the great prize ox of the sea, too fat to
be delicately good. Look at his hump, which would be as fine eating
as the buffalo's (which is esteemed a rare dish), were it not such a
solid pyramid of fat. But the spermaceti itself, how bland and
creamy that is; like the transparent, half-jellied, white meat of a
cocoanut in the third month of its growth, yet far too rich to supply
a substitute for butter. Nevertheless, many whalemen have a method
of absorbing it into some other substance, and then partaking of it.
In the long try watches of the night it is a common thing for the
seamen to dip their ship-biscuit into the huge oil-pots and let them
fry there awhile. Many a good supper have I thus made.

In the case of a small Sperm Whale the brains are accounted a fine
dish. The casket of the skull is broken into with an axe, and the
two plump, whitish lobes being withdrawn (precisely resembling two
large puddings), they are then mixed with flour, and cooked into a
most delectable mess, in flavor somewhat resembling calves' head,
which is quite a dish among some epicures; and every one knows that
some young bucks among the epicures, by continually dining upon
calves' brains, by and by get to have a little brains of their own,
so as to be able to tell a calf's head from their own heads; which,
indeed, requires uncommon discrimination. And that is the reason why
a young buck with an intelligent looking calf's head before him, is
somehow one of the saddest sights you can see. The head looks a sort
of reproachfully at him, with an "Et tu Brute!" expression.

It is not, perhaps, entirely because the whale is so excessively
unctuous that landsmen seem to regard the eating of him with
abhorrence; that appears to result, in some way, from the
consideration before mentioned: i.e. that a man should eat a newly
murdered thing of the sea, and eat it too by its own light. But no
doubt the first man that ever murdered an ox was regarded as a
murderer; perhaps he was hung; and if he had been put on his trial by
oxen, he certainly would have been; and he certainly deserved it if
any murderer does. Go to the meat-market of a Saturday night and see
the crowds of live bipeds staring up at the long rows of dead
quadrupeds. Does not that sight take a tooth out of the cannibal's
jaw? Cannibals? who is not a cannibal? I tell you it will be more
tolerable for the Fejee that salted down a lean missionary in his
cellar against a coming famine; it will be more tolerable for that
provident Fejee, I say, in the day of judgment, than for thee,
civilized and enlightened gourmand, who nailest geese to the ground
and feastest on their bloated livers in thy pate-de-foie-gras.

But Stubb, he eats the whale by its own light, does he? and that is
adding insult to injury, is it? Look at your knife-handle, there, my
civilized and enlightened gourmand dining off that roast beef, what
is that handle made of?--what but the bones of the brother of the
very ox you are eating? And what do you pick your teeth with, after
devouring that fat goose? With a feather of the same fowl. And with
what quill did the Secretary of the Society for the Suppression of
Cruelty to Ganders formally indite his circulars? It is only within
the last month or two that that society passed a resolution to
patronise nothing but steel pens.

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