Moose =/= Reindeer!

by Sara Mead

Unlike many D.C. folks, I never really watched The West Wing when it was on TV, and the resulting gaps in my cultural literacy have been particularly apparent in the past year or so. To close those gaps, Matt and I have been watching the show on DVD, and we just finished the third season. So far, I’m enjoying it. While I’m loath to admit it, I am just the kind of sentimental, cheesy person this show was designed to amuse and appeal to. (hangs head. sighs.)

That said, as with most D.C.-set things, the inaccuracies on the show get to me. Now, I’ve never worked in the White House, so I can’t get worked about inaccuracies there in the same way as some of my friends can. But I can definitely say that the Hawk ‘n’ Dove is NOT “down the street” from the White House, as Toby seems to be saying to Lord John Marbury in Dead Irish Writers.

But what really bothered me was a food-related (I know you were waiting for that) inaccuracy in The Black Vera Wang. Josh, coming back from a summit with the Russian president in Finland, gives Donna a box of smoked moose meat as a souvenir that becomes the source of an important subplot during the episode. References to moose abound throughout the episode. But here’s the thing: As we reported here in December, the delicious and ubiquitous Finnish cervid is not moose, but delicious, delicious Reindeer.

To keep it simple for folks:

Reindeer=delicious meat consumed in Finland.

Moose=much larger animal hunted by Sarah Palin.

And there you have it.

Why did the West Wing choose to perpetuate the notion that Finns are obsessed with Moose? My guess: Aaron Sorkin don’t know from Finland. Second guess: They were afraid that depicting reindeer as food would upset Americans accustomed to thinking of them primarily as Santa’s adorable little helpers. Third: The whole subplot hinges on the fact that Donna does not want the moose meat, but obviously she would not feel the same way about reindeer, because reindeer is delicious!

In any case, reindeer is delicious. If someone wants to give you a box of it, you should accept it with glee and delight–NOT pass it off to an intern!


13 responses to “Moose =/= Reindeer!

  1. Donna’s no intern, dude.

  2. I know, but the subplot in the episode involves the fact that Donna, who does not want the moose meat, then gives it to an intern, who sells it on ebay.

  3. Nice one…I live in Canada (Newfoundland, way East, way far away from Sarah Palin) and we have too many moose, actually, so they’re hunted and we get moose steaks, moose burgers, moose soup and even bottled moose for the off-season. Never had reindeer though…

  4. while i get the point of =/=, it is common to use “” to mean “does not equal”

  5. while i get the point of =/=, it is common to use “” to mean “does not equal”

  6. well now i see your problem!!! you can’t post the correct symbol for some reason.

  7. Karen,

    You’ve never had Caribou? Same animal. I’d be surprised if you’ve never had Caribou in Newfoundland, but if you haven’t – you should! It’s very good!

  8. Tom (in Norway)

    My guess is that it was to avoid upsetting Rudolf’s friends. Finland has “a zillion” moose, and about 80,000(!) are shot each year. (Sweden puts another 100,000 in the freezer each year, whereas our little Norway eats only about 35,000+ annually.) The 3 countries have more moose than all of N. America.

    It is more common to smoke reindeer, and both reindeer and moose are delicious!!

  9. It’s not necessarily Aaron Sorkin’s mistake.

    It’s possibly one of his character’s mistakes.

    But I see your point.

  10. since we’re picking nits, there are in fact moose in Finland (in addition to reindeer/caribou). So why is it inconceivable that Josh brought moose meat?

  11. I’ve had caribou (though not very often). Is it the same as reindeer? Well then!

  12. Well…rabbit and clams: I’ll have a go at that. I like your choice of Rosenquist’s White Bread. Yes, POP did bring food back to the fore since the AbEx guys couldn’t make it, except for maybe Minimalist Frank Stella’s Luncheon on the Grass and Aiolio.

  13. Try my blog at

    or “Artist at the Table”

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