Dog Meat: What Does It Taste Like?
In case you Fork in the Road readers don't Google-stalk me, you might not know that I wrote a book called Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris, which recounts the year I spent learning to cook in restaurants around the world. It came out last Wednesday. Yay! Buy a copy! Can't be persuaded to shell out the $15 on Amazon just yet? Understandable, times are tough. Perhaps this sneak peek of one of the most unique dining experiences from my year abroad can change your mind. Behold my edible adventure of eating dog meat -- yes, little Rover -- in Vietnam.
Grand Central Publishing
Now, before you get all PETA activist on me, you should know that dog is actually a specialty in Vietnam, and I wanted to experience the local culture as much as possible, which meant getting out of my culinary comfort zone and eating like the Vietnamese.
Dog meat is thought to bring luck and prosperity, but only during the second half of the lunar month. Consuming dog during the first half is considered very unlucky; consequently, many dog-meat restaurants close during that time. Dog meat is more commonly eaten during the cold winter months because it is considered a "warming" food according to traditional food classification. However, I sampled it at Tran Muc, a famed dog restaurant just north of Hanoi, in the sweltering summer heat.
The most traditional way to sample dog in Vietnam is in a set of dishes known as cay to 7 mon, in which a whole dog is used and prepared seven different ways. We knew that would be too much food for the two of us, my friend Hung and I, so Hung ordered a trifecta: steamed dog, grilled dog, and dog stew. Yum!