Wal-Mart has recalled a donkey meat product in China after tests showed that it contained DNA of other animals.Oh noes! They eat Little Donkeys! Still, I suppose it does give the story a seasonal touch.
Though it may well evoke cries of horror from anthropomorphic westerners (at least those who don't know what goes into regional speciality Salami), donkey meat is apparently a popular dish in some parts of China, a nation schooled by past famine into doing creative things with a wide variety of ruminants, sea-life, birds or insects - not to mention all those traditional medicinal unmentionables.
However, even the consumers who happily bought "Five Spice" donkey meat might have balked on finding out exactly what they were getting:
The Shandong Food and Drug Administration said the product contained fox meat.Well, that certainly places us squarely in Aesop's territory; now all we need is a lion.
The concept of eating foxes is not, of course, unknown, as in the ancient tale of the young Spartan who, required to live off the land in the traditional test of manhood, hid a stolen pet fox under his cloak and then stoically endured being gnawed to death rather than confess his crime.
Fox meat, however, has generally been regarded as the last resort of the truly ravenous - it's often described as an indication of just how hungry the Spartan lad must have been that he actually considered eating one - so one assumes the customers were less than delighted at this latest example of food contamination.
This particular form may well be an interesting by-product of the resurgence of fur in European fashion circles - a trend which led to Naomi Campbell's entertaining volte face on the subject - and the resulting surplus of fox, rat and mink sans wrapping.
It's a useful lesson for Wal-Mart; even a nation westernised enough to have embraced an American supermarket may have levels of corrupt practice and deception inconceivable in the good ol' U-S-of-A.