The Coach's Corner host got into hot water over calling fellow Coach's Corner host Ron MacLean a "savage" and a "barbarian" for eating a seal burger in St. John's, Newfoundland.
Don Cherry in trouble is not unusual. Cherry may not be crazy about eating seal, but he is often fond of foot in mouth.
Cherry did apologize later, noting that he has eaten venison and duck meat.
"I do however find it very unusual, in my world, that a person would go into a restaurant and order a seal burger for lunch. I meant no disrespect to the hunters who hunt and eat seal meat just like I have no disrespect for the hunters who hunt deer and duck and eat their meat."
Toronto, where Cherry and MacLean are normally based, has an amazing worldwide variety of foods, but I haven't run across seal meat. But this isn't about Toronto; in St. John's, in Newfoundland and especially Labrador, seal meat is not uncommon.
You can also find moose on menus in that part of Canada. Next door in Quebec, some places carry horse meat.
On Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations tour of Quebec, we found him in a kitchen in far northern Quebec where an Inuit family was taking apart a seal to be used for many purposes. While that video footage will make some uncomfortable (for a variety of reasons), using all of the animal did make the scene more endearing.
"There's lots of food issues in the world that need to be dealt with, and as far as I'm concerned, this one is way, way, way down the list," said Todd Perrin, co-owner of Mallard Cottage, a restaurant in the Quidi Vidi neighbourhood in the east end of St. John's, that served MacLean the seal burger.
In a CBC interview, Perrin noted that the harvests had grown more ethical in current times.
Using "savage" and "barbarian" were extra worse in the original context since seal is tied to the native Inuit community, harping on negative stereotypes. Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq (@leonaaglukkaq) tweeted this about Cherry's statement:
"Sealing is important to Inuit culture and tradition. Mr. Cherry's comments last night were hurtful and insensitive. I hope he apologizes."
You can travel to St. John's and not eat moose, seal, rabbit, or any other wild game. But if you go and see someone eating it, understand that when in Rome means getting what goes on in Rome or wherever your travels take you.
I'm hoping to get to St. John's this summer. If I get a chance to eat a seal burger of a moose pot pie, I will partake in a local delicacy. I have no interest in eating seal where I currently live, but would be interested in ordering a seal burger in St. John's.
One burger you find much more common in Canada than the United States is a lamb burger. In the States, a lamb burger would be quite unusual. In Canada, a lamb burger isn't. But Canadians aren't "savage" or "barbarian" for eating a lamb burger.
Getting a cow burger in India is understandably difficult. The animal that is consumed the most in the world is an animal not commonly eaten in Canada or the United States: the goat.
The joys of travel involve tasting items that are germane to that region: cacio e pepe in Rome, sangria in Barcelona, poutine in Montréal.
That local item might throw you off but is a delicacy for the people who live where you are visiting?
Seal absolutely falls in that category in traveling to that part of Canada. The only thing I know for sure is that I won't be able to order it medium-rare.
video credit: youtube.com/Captain Canada