Ask Dave

How come most of the world's cultures enjoy eating goat, but Americans don't?


Send Dave your questions at ADVENTUREGOD@OUTSIDEMAG.COM, or visit him at MYSPACE.COM/ADVENTURE GOD

I happen to love goat, so much so that I've taken to tugging one along on almost all my expeditions. These hardy ungulates can trek for days, provide spirit-lifting protein when you need it most, and, as it turns out, carry a king-size duvet with ease. When my vegan climbing partner Rupert mockingly calls me Goat Boy, I explain that the numbers, and history, are in my corner: Outside of Western Europe, the U.S., and Canada, goat is an extremely popular meat, and it's been that way for a while—the goat was domesticated about 10,000 years ago, making it among the earliest barnyard critters. But because goats can tolerate a nomad's lifestyle and eat all kinds of low-grade weeds, they earned a historical reputation for being trashy—foolish snobbery that kept the delicious creatures from getting a hoof-hold on menus from London to L.A. That's changing, though: Goat-meat imports have more than tripled in the past decade. According to Stephanie Mitcham, author of Meat Goats: Their History, Management and Diseases, this is due to demand from immigrant communities, health freaks banking on the low-fat goodness, and the introduction of plumper varieties, like the South African Boer. Chew on that, Rupert.

What's the coolest, manliest watch in the world?
I usually don't wear one, since I'm positively Aztec in my ability to tell time by triangulating the stars, the sun, and the birds. But when I do, my left wrist proudly sports the Breitling Emergency ($5,275; Designed for aviation professionals, the three-ounce titanium timepiece has both analog and LCD displays, is water resistant down to 100 feet, and comes with a built-in emergency microtransmitter. Just snap off a small cap near five o'clock and unspool a 17-inch antenna, and the Breitling broadcasts an international distress signal as far as 86 nautical miles away and 20,000 feet up. The watch saved the bacon of a pair of helicopter pilots who crashed in Antarctica in 2003, and I found mine quite useful last fall when I shoaled my 50-foot sloop, Vivacious III, during a sailing date in Biscayne Bay. I was able to flag a Coast Guard cutter in 15 minutes. Alas, my disoriented lady friend went home with one of the mustachioed "guardians," so Dave won't be signaling her again.

Just how firm should my handshake be?
Hilka Klinkenberg, founder of the Manhattan consulting-and-training firm Etiquette International and author of At Ease ... Professionally, says the standard protocol is to be firm but not bone-crushing. "You don't have to prove you've been working out or that you're more powerful than the other guy," she explains. That sounds a bit soft to me, but then, I spend 200-plus days a year in the field, where a good, stiff finger-flattener is still the best way to say "Hi, I'm Dave." Still, there are regional variations that should be respected. In Europe, a single pump from the elbow does the trick. My friends in Asia prefer a lingering, limp-fish clasp-and-wiggle thing. And the touts I met last year on a road trip in Senegal had gussied up the simple shake into an elaborate grab-slide-and-bump routine that would make a Mason sweat. If you're ever abroad and unsure about what to do, just smile and offer your mitt. But remember to put the olive spear back in your martini first. Puncture wounds, I've recently learned, don't earn you any new friends.

DAVE SALUTES! John Ninomiya, Balloonatic
As a boy, John Ninomiya had a dream: to drift into the heavens under a bundle of multicolored party balloons. He changed his thinking in 1982, when a Davely man named Larry Walters rose 16,000 feet above Southern California on a lawn chair attached to 42 helium-filled weather balloons, encountered freezing temperatures, and faced $4,000 in FAA fines. For years, a spooked Ninomiya stuck to the more plebian realm of hot-air ballooning, but the old boyhood vision never quite drifted away. And so, in 2002, the Solana Beach, California–based clinical epidemiologist began a quest to float above each of the 50 states using a cluster of helium balloons harnessed directly to his body. Ninomiya, now 46, has since soared above 27 states, reaching as high as 21,400 feet (to come down, he pops balloons with a knife). He hopes to log another eight states in 2007, starting this May. "For me, being carried away by a bouquet of balloons is still the most wonderful flying experience there is," says Ninomiya. That's one bubble I'm not going to burst.

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