Whale Meat and Friday Abstinence
I just got back from a dinner meeting of The Postech Times' staff and student-reporters. Indirectly in deference to my Catholicism, we went to a local Japanese-style raw fish restaurant. (A Korean-style one would have been better: more food, less presentation.)
One of the side-dishes were were served was decidedly Korean: whale meat. Whale meat was new to many of my students, but it is nothing new to me, having lived from 1997 to 2000 in Ulsan, Korea's 8000-year-old whaling capital, and having married into an Ulsanite family. (My wife won't eat it; it's men's food.) Yet, as a Catholic, and today being Friday, I was met with a dilemma.
Is whale a mammal, as our science textbooks tell us, or is it a fish, as one of the scientific asides in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick insists? (A left-liberal friend of mine insists that those passages should be excised, like the n-word from the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which I admit to excising in my published adaptation of the work that can be seen on this blog's sidebar.) Can a Catholic eat whale meat on Friday?
My conscience decided to follow the greatest American novel, and then I remembered the question didn't matter, as the Korean bishops have issued an exemption from Friday abstinence when it comes to dinner meetings, a big part of Korean culture. So, I savored the succulent blubber with a guilt-free conscience, even as most of my students, though Korean, were unwilling to sample the regional delicacy.