Jewish Journal


April 23, 2008

China’s penis restaurant: clean or unclean?



DISCLAIMER: I saw this video last month but previously had no worthy excuse to blog about it. Please, don’t watch the above video, starting at 1:57, if you are prone to nausea, pregnant or may become pregnant.

Before there was The Law, there was Passover. After the Exodus came the transmission of Torah to Moses and all the mitzvot included in Levitical code. God only knows why he gave the Israelites all the instructions he did; this is apparent over and again when you read through Leviticus (or A.J. Jacobs’ “The Year of Living Biblically”).

One of the questions I’ve heard before, and heard again at Bible study last week, is: Why did God, creator of all, deem some animals clean and others unclean? What was so bad about the coney or the owl or the, gulp, weasel? Why would He give the Israelites such seemingly strange commands in Leviticus 11?

I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. 45 I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.

Oh right. Because He’s God. If you don’t like His commands, build your own universe.

Oddly, though, the food laws offer no prohibition (that I know of) against what I would consider the most defiled delicacy. For the rest of this story we head to a restaurant in China, via The Times of London, where all they serve filleted penis and such drinks as deer-penis juice, which the reporter calls “the vilest concoction I’ve ever had the privilege to imbibe. It’s as sour as a smacked lemon and as bitter as neat quinine. My face freezes in an agonising spasm, and Lord knows how I manage to keep from throwing up.”

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