A few meaty facts to chew on:
1. The Roman emperor Elagabalus ordered 600 ostriches killed so his cooks could make ostrich-brain pies.
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2. A 1655 book by English physician Thomas Muffett advocated torturing animals before slaughter to make them more tender as food. The book said animals should be killed slowly and painfully, with “fear dissolving the hardest parts.”
3. Jesse James refused to rob a bank in McKinney, Texas, because his favorite chili parlor was in the same building.
4. On a 1965 space flight, astronaut John Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich on board for crew mate Virgil “Gus” Grissom.
5. In 1971, when Tokyo got its first McDonald's, the company's Japanese partner, Den Fujita, made this politically incorrect statement: “The reason Japanese people are so short and have yellow skins is that they have eaten nothing but fish and rice for 2,000 years. If we eat McDonald's hamburgers and potatoes for 1,000 years, we will become taller, our skin will become white, and our hair will become blond.”
6. Chicago artist Dwight Kalb made a statue of Madonna from 180 pounds of ham.
7. Turkeys have been bred to have such large breasts that they can't have sex and must be artificially inseminated.
8. Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie gave up meat around age 60, explaining: “My intestines wrote me a letter.”
9. There's no chicken in chicken fried steak, so why is it called that? Probably because the beefsteak is coated in flour or batter, much as is done with fried chicken. Like many Southerners, Elvis Presley loved chicken fried steak, which he called “ugly steak.”
10. In Francois Mitterrand's dying days in 1995, the retired French leader ate an illegal dish: the ortolan, an endangered bird that is turned into dinner in a most cruel way. The small birds are captured alive, their eyes are poked out, they are force-fed millet, then they are drowned in Armagnac liqueur. Roasted and put into the diner's mouth whole, they are eaten bones and all. Mitterrand devoured ortolan in the traditional French way, with a linen napkin over his head. Some say the napkin helps capture the aroma of the roasted bird; others say the person who eats an ortolan is merely hiding from God.