The Mortal Struggle Between Dark Meat and White Meat

Scrutinizing culture.
Nov. 21 2012 8:15 AM

The Unbearable Whiteness of White Meat

Dark meat is better. Why don't we love it more?

(Continued from Page 1)

Despite its superior taste, dark meat has dark undertones for some. Dark meat evokes the color of earth, soil. Dark meat seems to summon up ancient fears of contamination and miscegenation as opposed to the supposed superior purity of white meat. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that white meat remains the choice of a holiday that celebrates Puritans.

Indeed, the connotations of the pale and darker parts of the turkey constitute a meaty metaphor for the Thanksgiving feast itself. The allegedly more refined and daintier white parts, the wings and breast, have never touched the ground the way the earthier darker legs have done. And you know how dirty dirt is.

By the way, if you want to read a brilliant poetic embodiment of the real story of our "Pilgrim fathers," a chilling antidote to white bread, white meat, and Thanksgiving treacle, I recommend you take a look at Robert Lowell's amazing, chilling poem "Children of Light" (which could have been called ("Children of White").

Its opening lines represent the best unsentimental epitaph for the myth of Thanksgiving:

Our fathers wrung their bread from stocks and stones
And fenced their gardens with the Redmen's bones.

Maybe that's why I have a prejudice against the white-meat sacrament of the holiday that covers up the white man's crimes.

Advertisement

It's Lowell writing about his pilgrim ancestors who began the rolling genocidal slaughter of those nice Native Americans who made the first Thanksgiving possible.

The real Thanksgiving story is extremely dark, far darker than any leg and thigh meat.

Could fear of facing our dark history be behind the prejudice against dark meat? Or is there more to the darkness of dark meat that feeds that fear?

This is what occurred to me when I put the question to my cohort of Facebook "friends" the Monday before Thanksgiving. There was one comment in particular that made me wonder whether something deeper wasn't going on: "I hate dark meat it's slimy and viscous."

I had always thought it was a matter of the tastelessness of white meat, but here was an instance of some profound and fundamental revulsion against the threatening sensuality of dark meat. (Which others might call juiciness—what must he think of gravy?)

The language in which it was expressed reminded me of something I had not paid attention to since my undergraduate days: Jean Paul Sartre's mad rants against "ooze" and "viscosity" in Being and Nothingness.

For Sartre, the slimy resists the standard categorizations of solidity and liquidity, maintaining itself in a disgusting physical condition somewhere between the two: "Slime is the agony of water. It presents itself as a phenomenon in the process of becoming; it does not have the permanence within change that water has but on the contrary represents an accomplished break in a change of state. This fixed instability in the slimy discourages possession."

However nonsensical most of Sartre is, that's a great line isn't it? "Slime is the agony of water."

Maybe that's it: Dark meat represents slime and viscosity. Dark meat embodies all the menace of dissolution into the nothingness that is the slimy ground of being itself!

Come to think of it, maybe I'll try the white meat this time.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

160 Countries Host Marches to Demand Action on Climate Change

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.