During my Moby Dick reading, I have been encountering some banter that at least can force you to smile. I have always expected Moby Dick as a serious reading, but I apparently was wrong, there’s a sense of humour too in this book. Well, I am now featuring this one on Scene on Three because it made me laugh (quite) out loud, just by imagining it!
Ismael was telling us in chapter 65 about how sperm whale (Moby Dicks’ ‘family’) meat was often served among the whale ships.
“In the case of a small Sperm Whale the brains are accounted a fine dish. The casket of the skull is broken into with an axe, and the two plump, whitish lobes being withdrawn (precisely resembling two large puddings), they are then mixed with flour, and cooked into a most delectable mess, in flavor somewhat resembling calves’ head, which is quite a dish among some epicures; and every one knows that some young bucks among the epicures, by continually dining upon calves’ brains, by and by get to have a little brains of their own, so as to be able to tell a calf’s head from their own heads; which, indeed, requires uncommon discrimination. And that is the reason why a young buck with an intelligent looking calf’s head before him, is somehow one of the saddest sights you can see. The head looks a sort of reproachfully at him, with an ‘Et tu Brute!’ expression.”
By the way, if you haven’t read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, or at least read/heard about his (Caesar, not Shakespeare) murder, you might not see the funniest part…. :)
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