Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Friday Food and Drink Post: ‘Meerkat Love’ Edition ❤️

 

Ahhh, “Meerkat Love.” Remember that hoary old song from the mid-1970s by that odd duo, Captain and Tennille? Yeah, I’m sorry to say that I remember it too. (A note to the unwary and to the Ricochet Editor-On-Duty: I know that’s not the actual title of the song, but close enough for gubmint work, and as a “hook” for the purpose of this post, I think.)

As for Captain and Tenille, I have no idea why Daryl Dragon was impersonating some sort of military officer (CPT? Capt? CAPT? Lord, please don’t let me get it wrong; I don’t want to get in trouble), when it appears that he came from a musical family, served no time in the armed services at all, and seems to have spent most of his life in one band after another, until landing Toni Tenille sometime in the early ’70s, and enjoying a pretty successful decade at the top of the pops. What? Oh. Nevermind. I am wrong. Apparently, “Captain” is an honorific, bestowed on him by Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame, who called him “Captain Keyboard,” during his tenure with the group. Glad to have that sorted for myself, even at this late date. No stolen valor here. Not in a musical sense, anyway.

Back to the Meerkats. I’ve loved those little guys (and gals) for decades, ever since I saw a TV special about them, perhaps a National Geographic production, also probably in the 1970s or thereabouts. Even the origin of their name is fascinating. If it’s from the Dutch (which it may be, since the creatures’ range is largely southern Africa), then “meerkat” means “lake cat.” However, they’re not cats, and they inhabit the Kalahari and various other smaller deserts, so no water. “Mier” is an Afrikaans word meaning “termite”; therefore, “termite cats.” A bit closer, since 80 percent or so of their diets is composed of small insects, and they’re particularly fond of scavenging in termite mounds. But, still not cats. Then there’s the Sanskrit word which is written in the Roman alphabet as “merkata.”  That means “monkey.” But that isn’t right either. Meerkats are neither monkey nor cats, but are actually mongooses/mongeese. So who knows? As many such things go, probably a combination of all of the above, and of people doing their best to identify a strange mammal that reminds them in size and behavior of both cats and small monkeys, and which eats bugs.

Meerkats weigh only a few pounds, and adults are about 15 inches long excluding their muscular tail, which adds another ten to their length. They live in packs called mobs, usually of a few dozen animals, and three or four mobs will often share a range. They’re social and highly interactive, although with a rigid social structure that limits reproduction to the dominant pair in the mob, and which results in adult death and infanticide, as adults jockey for position to enjoy the top spot, removing those who challenge them, and as any babies born to non-dominant females (who apparently haven’t heard about the pill) are rejected and either killed outright or left to die.

That’s the less charming aspect of their behavior. (We all have one. And some of us have more than one.) What we see on the “family-friendly” documentaries though are the lovely little creatures caring for each other, with both males and females babysitting the mob’s young. One after another takes turns to assume the characteristic “sentinel” pose, keeping watch over their fellow mobsters as they forage for food, and alerting them to predators.

They’re intriguing little animals. Some research indicates that their vicious strictures on, and control of, mob reproduction reduces inbreeding and keeps the genetic stock strong. Males and females who wish to become dominant generally have to leave the birth mob, find another (unrelated) one, and win the top spot there. Studies of the sentries watching over the group have revealed that meerkats have different “alarm” signals for airborne and terrestrial predators, and that their chirping and trilling escalates according to the urgency of the threat. There’s an organized and pre-determined response, based on the nature and threat level, and very often, all are kept safe.

Young meerkats are tended, not only by their parents, but also by submissive females who can lactate without gestating, and who feed them; and they are watched over by non-dominant males. The young are taught to hunt, and since scorpions are occasionally on the menu, they are taught how to kill them, when the adults bring live scorpions into the burrow for the kids to practice on. (Interestingly, the adults bite off the tails of the scorpions first, so that the children will not be stung to death.)

Oy, She! I hear some of you yelling. Why have you gone Full David Attenborough on us? What on earth does this post have to do with food? Or love? Your point is–what, exactly?

My points, and I do have several, are these: 1) I have to work food into this post somehow before it gets away from me; 2) it’s Valentine’s Day; 3) I love animals; and 4) good works are important. So, a charity that combines food, and animals, and Valentine’s Day — winner! And as ever, bonus points for a sense of humor, particularly when it comes to affairs of the heart.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️  

Here we go:

El Paso Zoo will name a cockroach after your ex and feed it to their meerkats:

Not only can you name a cockroach after your ex at the El Paso Zoo, but on Valentine’s Day the zoo will be feeding those cockroaches to the meerkats for their “Quit Bugging Me” event at 2:15 p.m. Feb. 14.

You can submit the name of yours or your friend’s ex by sending a direct message to the El Paso Zoo Facebook page by Feb. 10. On Valentine’s Day, zoo staff will decorate the meerkat exhibit with the submitted names and shortly after, in honor of those names, the meerkats will be fed cockroaches.

“This is a fun way to get the community involved in our daily enrichment activities,” said El Paso Zoo Event Coordinator Sarah Borrego. “The meerkats love to get cockroaches as a snack and what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by feeding them a cockroach named after your ex!”

The public is invited to attend the “Quit Bugging Me” event. The zoo will also show the event on Facebook Live and the meerkat webcam available on the zoo’s website www.elpasozoo.org.

The page where you can still, if you’re so minded, do the deed, is here: Quit Bugging Me.

And because we’re all globalists now:

The Helmsley Conservation Centre in the UK also gives you the opportunity to name a cockroach after your ex, although it’s unclear what they’ll do with it, other than that the first name of your former beloved will appear on the “Roach Board” on Valentine’s Day. Sounds good to me.

In addition, for those of you old enough to remember a Bronx Cheer, the Bronx Zoo gets in on the act, and promises to feed your named cockroach to an “animal” on, or just after the day. The San Antonio Zoo is starting its own Cry me a Cockroach program this year, which extends to other life forms, and which might give you the best value, since it incorporates thoughts of snakes, cockroaches, and reptiles all in one tidy little package — a triple whammy as it were.

A quick internet search will bring you to several similar endeavors, so please, have at it. Feed the beasties and help a good cause, while scoring some payback on them what done you wrong. Oh, and by the way, if you’re worried about feeding live creatures to the predators, don’t be. The sacrificial victims are already dead, and in fact, frozen. If you’re one of those women people who believes that “revenge is a dish best served cold,” this gives a new meaning to the phrase. (Why didn’t I think of that sooner, myself? Freezer? Duh.)

If, like me, you generally shy away from spilling your guts about too-intimate matters online, or if you can’t quite bring yourself to “out” your mistakes so obviously (my list is rather short, I assure you; I’ve led a sheltered and pretty blameless life, and I’ve been married for almost 40 of my 65 years), just send an animal charity of your choice a small donation to show the love, and call it quits all round.

Wow. I feel so much better with all that off my chest.

Now. The final point of the post.

Who, among us, has eaten bugs? Or other bizarre, revolting, or just plain distasteful foods?

Please share.

And in conclusion, a musical interlude. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and those you love:

.

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  1. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    • #1
    • February 14, 2020, at 3:00 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ll start with “brains on toast,” a breakfast favorite when I was a kid. I haven’t eaten it for decades, and really went off the idea altogether when Mad Cow Disease became a concern. I do like shrimp and lobster, and many consider those “bugs” so I’ll cop to that as well.

    • #2
    • February 14, 2020, at 3:00 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    She (View Comment):

    I’ll start with “brains on toast,” a breakfast favorite when I was a kid. I haven’t eaten it for decades, and really went off the idea altogether when Mad Cow Disease became a concern. I do like shrimp and lobster, and many consider those “bugs” so I’ll cop to that as well.

    I was going to say “brains and eggs,” but you got there first.

    “You ate brains?” you say. “Didn’t take, did they?”

    Quiet, you.

    • #3
    • February 14, 2020, at 3:15 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator

    • #4
    • February 14, 2020, at 3:33 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    I’ll start with “brains on toast,” a breakfast favorite when I was a kid. I haven’t eaten it for decades, and really went off the idea altogether when Mad Cow Disease became a concern. I do like shrimp and lobster, and many consider those “bugs” so I’ll cop to that as well.

    I was going to say “brains and eggs,” but you got there first.

    “You ate brains?” you say. “Didn’t take, did they?”

    Quiet, you.

    Hm. Shades of the cannibal king who ate the tax collector, because he thought people would start handing over money to him if he did. From Mark Steyn:

    In 1960 [Dad] apprehended the Tigwe of Vwuip, a northern Nigerian tribal chief who had eaten the local tax collector. The Tigwe had apparently been so impressed by the man’s ability to acquire money on demand that he had — understandably — decided to try to assimilate his powers.

    As I recall, that didn’t work, either.

    • #5
    • February 14, 2020, at 3:43 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    She (View Comment):

    Hm. Shades of the cannibal king who ate the tax collector, because he thought people would start handing over money to him if he did. From Mark Steyn:

    In 1960 [Dad] apprehended the Tigwe of Vwuip, a northern Nigerian tribal chief who had eaten the local tax collector. The Tigwe had apparently been so impressed by the man’s ability to acquire money on demand that he had — understandably — decided to try to assimilate his powers.

    As I recall, that didn’t work, either.

    The Kwisatz Haderach Gagara Yasin? Your dad?

    I forgot that you linked that in a comment!

    • #6
    • February 14, 2020, at 3:54 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. Full Size Tabby Member

    She: Apparently, “Captain” is an honorific, bestowed on him by Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame, who called him “Captain Keyboard,” during his tenure with the group. Glad to have that sorted for myself, even at this late date. No stolen valor here. Not in a musical sense, anyway.

    Also, his costume is yacht captain, not military captain. 

    During the heyday of “Captain and Tennille” I was a teenager living in Newport Beach, California, which was home to (and still is home to) a large number of small to medium sized pleasure boats. Many of the owners assumed the role of “captain,” even if there was no crew, or the entire crew consisted of family. Many of them had a hat like that worn by the musician. 

    • #7
    • February 14, 2020, at 4:58 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  8. Full Size Tabby Member

    At a county fair, one of the entertainment acts prepared and served bugs to the audience. I declined, but my elderly mother and young children eagerly consumed them, though the bugs had been chopped and sautéed. 

    The act was connected with a group that was trying to promote the cultivation of bugs for human consumption as an inexpensive source of protein for people in impoverished areas of the world (this was in the early 1990s).

    • #8
    • February 14, 2020, at 5:03 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  9. Full Size Tabby Member

    She (View Comment):
    I do like shrimp and lobster, and many consider those “bugs” so I’ll cop to that as well.

    I remain impressed with the person who, upon looking at a shrimp or a lobster, first decided to investigate whether there was edible flesh under the shell. 

    • #9
    • February 14, 2020, at 5:11 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  10. Arahant Member

    I admit to nothing.

    • #10
    • February 14, 2020, at 5:18 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  11. Full Size Tabby Member

    My parents (Americans) lived a year in Baghdad, Iraq in the early 1950s while my father had a visiting professorship. As I heard the story, the local custom then was to serve to the guests of honor the eyeballs of the lamb that was being served at a banquet. At a dinner at which my parents were the guests of honor, the hosts did so. But fortunately for my parents, the hosts were already aware that Westerners (Americans and Western Europeans) were generally not keen on eating eyeballs, so the hosts did the presentation ceremonially, but did not expect my parents to eat them. 

    • #11
    • February 14, 2020, at 5:26 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  12. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    My parents (Americans) lived a year in Baghdad, Iraq in the early 1950s while my father had a visiting professorship. As I heard the story, the local custom then was to serve to the guests of honor the eyeballs of the lamb that was being served at a banquet. At a dinner at which my parents were the guests of honor, the hosts did so. But fortunately for my parents, the hosts were already aware that Westerners (Americans and Western Europeans) were generally not keen on eating eyeballs, so the hosts did the presentation ceremonially, but did not expect my parents to eat them.

    Lucky for your parents! Because in cases where the hosts were less culturally aware, that might be a hard call.

    • #12
    • February 14, 2020, at 5:30 AM PST
    • 1 like
  13. Stad Thatcher

    She: Apparently, “Captain” is an honorific

    So, you’re saying I don’t have to salute when I drive past a KFC?

    • #13
    • February 14, 2020, at 5:32 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  14. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    the local custom then was to serve to the guests of honor the eyeballs of the lamb that was being served at a banquet.

    I would wonder if the custom was to serve that to all guests or just foreigners. Mischief is universal. 

    Sometimes one pays a price for being adventurous with food. A Marine buddy told me his entire unit was miserable after graciously eating camel. 

    • #14
    • February 14, 2020, at 5:56 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  15. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    the local custom then was to serve to the guests of honor the eyeballs of the lamb that was being served at a banquet.

    I would wonder if the custom was to serve that to all guests or just foreigners. Mischief is universal.

    Sometimes one pays a price for being adventurous with food. A Marine buddy told me his entire unit was miserable after graciously eating camel.

    Oh. I can only imagine. They’re such supercilious beasts. (The camels I mean. Not the Marines.)

    • #15
    • February 14, 2020, at 6:02 AM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I love this post! I must admit I did eat a cricket in Thailand. At least it was safer than being stomped on by an elephant (for another time). And I adore meerkats! We followed them on NatGeo for months, never missed an episode. We were able to recognize them without the producers saying who they were. It was fascinating, hysterical, sad and enlightening. Sure did enjoy the show.

    • #16
    • February 14, 2020, at 6:12 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I must admit I did eat a cricket in Thailand.

    There’s an old saying, “You can tell how happy a biker is by the number of insects in his teeth.”

    • #17
    • February 14, 2020, at 7:11 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  18. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    She: As for Captain and Tenille, I have no idea why Daryl Dragon was impersonating some sort of military officer (CPT? Capt? CAPT? Lord, please don’t let me get it wrong; I don’t want to get in trouble)

    I”m going to just have to say – it was a campy 70s thing, and the same sort of phenomenon that gave us the Village People and any number of other campy acts.

    • #18
    • February 14, 2020, at 7:15 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    I remain impressed with the person who, upon looking at a shrimp or a lobster, first decided to investigate whether there was edible flesh under the shell. 

    Given the sheer number of utterly toxic plants, animals, and fungi in the world, I think we owe our ancestors a great debt for choosing the more or less edible ones. We can’t claim those who died from eating the wrong things because, obviously, if they’d eaten the right things they’d be included amongst our ancestors.

    • #19
    • February 14, 2020, at 7:18 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  20. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thanks to a traumatic childhood cuisine (my grandmother being a terrible cook, and a cheap cook, which combined to make her a terribly cheap terrible cook), my mother vowed to never inflict on us what was inflicted on her, though I’ve heard often of the fare. Apparently my grandmother’s favorite snack was pickled pigs’ feet (you can still find these in the right sort of grocery stores), but she would also regularly serve fried brains, souse, various types of blood puddings, tripe, mock-apple pies (made from Ritz crackers), and so forth. The one thing my mother did insist we try was cow’s tongue, but not boiled as she was so often served, but smoked, as available at a nearby Kosher grocery store. That was excellent, especially with a bit of mustard on some rye bread.

    I myself enjoy lobster and crab, and will sometimes make a lobster bisque (which, when done properly, is an all day affair), but I’ve never had anything else in the arthropod family.

    I have tried other types of shellfish – oysters and clams – and cannot stomach them.

    But octopus and squid are both tasty if prepared well.

    • #20
    • February 14, 2020, at 7:25 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  21. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Many of the owners assumed the role of “captain,” even if there was no crew, or the entire crew consisted of family. Many of them had a hat like that worn by the musician.

    It has always been my impression that the master of any vessel is entitled to the title “Captain,” although one probably risks ridicule if the craft is, say, a mere rowboat. Consider famous sailor Jonas Grumby, also known as the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island; he was sometimes addressed as Captain, particularly by Mr. Howell, but I don’t think this had anything to do with any military background.

    And of course one can also attain the title “Captain” in other ways. You could be a captain in the Army, for example (an officer rank, but not nearly so lofty as it is in the Navy). You could be a police or fire captain. Or you could become the head waiter at a fancy restaurant, or the manager of the bellboys in a fancy hotel.

    • #21
    • February 14, 2020, at 7:37 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  22. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The only brain eating in the US that I’m aware of is of crawfish and squirrels.

    The octopus tentacles I ate were delicious, but oddly not at all like squid. So there are clearly tricks to cooking it. Despite the taste, my companions couldn’t get past the remaining suckers.

    • #22
    • February 14, 2020, at 7:50 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Doug Kimball Thatcher

    Muskrats and Meerkats, while both sorta cute, are different creatures. Muskrats are herbivorous rodents that live in North American swamps and marshlands. The people on those Alaska shows like to eat them and make mittens from their coats.  Meerkats live in Africa and are a kind of mongoose. They eat bugs and lizards and live in colonies.

    • #23
    • February 14, 2020, at 7:56 AM PST
    • 1 like
  24. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    Muskrats and Meerkats, while both sorta cute, are different creatures. Muskrats are herbivorous rodents that live in North American swamps and marshlands. The people on those Alaska shows like to eat them and make mittens from their coats. Meerkats live in Africa and are a kind of mongoose. They eat bugs and lizards and live in colonies.

    We have muskrats in the creek at the bottom of the field. The only meerkats around here are at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

    I think I’ve got that the right way round . . . 

    • #24
    • February 14, 2020, at 8:14 AM PST
    • Like
  25. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ve had delicious squid, in Venice. I’ve also eaten crocodile, or maybe it was alligator? It was like shoe leather. People have told me that, when prepared properly, it’s delicious, but my sampling of it wasn’t.

    • #25
    • February 14, 2020, at 8:15 AM PST
    • Like
  26. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Down here, we have nutria. They’re pretty when they are clean. Cajuns eat them in rural areas, so I’d guess they are no worse than squirrels. 

    The difference between muskrats and nutria might be about as significant as the difference between a grey squirrel and a red squirrel. Sometimes I think species lists could be halved by simply appending an animal’s region to its name. 

     

    • #26
    • February 14, 2020, at 8:15 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  27. Doug Kimball Thatcher

    The midshipmen in Patrick O’Brian’s novels feasted on the ships rats, called them millers, to make them seem more appetizing. I spent several summers back in my college days working as a lifeguard on the beaches of Bevery, MA north of Boston. Some of the elderly locals would tell tales of rummaging through the rocky shore at low tide to catch lobster, quickly steamed on a bed of fresh seaweed placed on a bonfire of driftwood. Their parents were unhappy; lobster was poison, a peasant food. That didn’t stop kids from kids from feasting on it, spoiling their dinners. Cold water lobster deserves something of a bad reputation. You can’t eat a dead lobster; it will make you sick. Lobsters are scavangers and when dead, are quickly filled with harmful bacteria, as some very unhappy fraternity brothers of mine discovered when they came back from the coast with “fresh” lobsters that had obviously passed on. I warned them but they ate them. Ugh.

    • #27
    • February 14, 2020, at 8:51 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  28. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I ate a bee once. It wasn’t on the menu. It hit the window vent while I was driving along and right to the back of my throat. Stung me before going down.

    • #28
    • February 14, 2020, at 9:40 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  29. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member