An Italian television chef was suspended after he raved about how wonderfully tasty cat meat is, causing an outcry from thousands of animal lovers.
Beppe Bigazzi, 77, is a co-presenter on Italy's The Cook's Challenge TV program, a popular lunchtime show. During the show Bigazzi spoke of his enjoyment of eating cat meat, of how it is ''tastier than other animals'', and he told how to prepare ''tender, white cat meat.'' He went on to say, ''I can assure you it's a delicacy, now I am going to get lots of letters.''
Not only did he get "lots of letters", there were lots of angry phone calls to the television station's headquarters in Rome as well as complaints on websites.
Italy's health under-secretary and vocal animal rights activist Francesca Martini slammed Mr Bigazzi's comments as ''offensive to the growing number of people who care about the way we treat animals".
She added that it was ''shameful'' for a state television employee to recommend a notion as ''despicable'' as eating cats on national TV and that killing and cooking cats was illegal under a 1991 law and punishable by up to 18 months in jail.
Bigazzi has been suspended for his remarks and an investigation has been launched into possible criminal offences.
Bigazzi has been with the cooking show for over ten years. He said, ''I was just trying to explain a saying from where I come from [Tuscany] about the eating of cats. In the 30s and 40s they were very popular.''
He also explained, ''It's all a big mix-up. Once they see the video they will see that there is nothing untoward, it's just a misunderstanding and I don't really want to say anything else.''