While a rose by any other name may smell just as sweet, kangaroo meat by any other name may taste just as gamey. And so the analogy of the rose may have its darker side.

Some folks in Australia are trying to come up with another name for kangaroo meat. I suppose this was necessary because the public has difficulty selecting an item on the menu that reminds them of Saturday morning cartoons.

In fact, a major magazine in Australia has been seeking public input on this problem — worldwide.

More than 2,700 people from 41 countries entered the Syndey-based Food Companion International magazine competition.

So far they have rejected names like “kangarly”, “maroo,” and “kangasaurus.” Apparently they have settled on “australus.”

Well I hate to tell those folks the bad news, but “australus” is no big improvement. In fact, it sounds like something that requires penicillin.

And besides, they’ve called so much attention to the issue, another moniker is anti-climatic. Might as well draw a picture of old “Jiffy” and post it by “broiled” or “deep fried.” Getting 41 nations involved is kind of like somebody in the White House posting names of CIA agents who have overdue library books.

This should have been a stealth operation — like someone in the White House eavesdropping on Americans without a court’s approval.

Besides, someone is going to look at “australus” on the menu and ask, “What’s that?” At least that’s what I did the first time I saw “steak tartar” on a menu. My friend thought it was something exotic and ordered it, only to find that it’s raw meat — the stuff cave mean ate until they discovered fire and hosted the first neighborhood barbecue. I’ll try new stuff, but I’ll poke at it first.

Now I must tell you that the consumption of kangaroo meat in Australia is very low. They just have more kangaroos than they can stir with a stick, or a spoon, and they thought maybe this high protein source could become a main course.

I could have told them they were not going anywhere in this endeavor. Perception is stronger than protein unless you are trapped on a deserted island.

You see, there’s a precedent for this failure. A few years back, ostrich meat was promoted as a high protein, low cholesterol food source. But very few people could stomach the idea of a dish that reminded them of Big Bird on “Sesame Street.” You see, once creatures become cartoon characters, the chance of serving that creature in a restaurant is nil. The one creature not included in that rejection is the pig. “Charlotte’s Web” did little to diminish pork chop sales.

In an Associated Press story, Food Companion editor Mel Nathan said “australus” sounded dignified. So how many of us have ever looked at our plates and tried to view our food as dignified or not? How can some form of dead animal on your plate appear dignified? Is that what parsley is all about? Is the purpose of a sprig of parsley lying beside a steak supposed to add dignity to the consumption of animal protein?

And no, I’m not trying to convert anyone into becoming a vegetarian — I just think that when we eat ham and eggs for breakfast, we should appreciate that the hog has much more commitment to this project than the chicken. And the concept of kangaroo and hash browns being widely embraced — well, I think a man wearing a turban and carrying a chemistry set would have a better chance of boarding an airliner.

(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. E-mail: dwain.walden@gaflnews.com)

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