I’m currently dealing with some meat issues and I’m finding it all very curious. In Sonoma, there’s a battle over fois gras brewing and it’s got me wondering about some of the particulars of meat consumption. Personally, I don’t have a problem with meat. I recently went to Wild Game Night at the Big Four. We had a sampler platter and then shared entrees. Over the course of the evening I ate alligator, rabbit, rattlesnake, caribou, wild boar, ostrich, buffalo, and Himalayan yak. The buffalo was served with a few slices of fois gras on top so I guess I had goose as well. The chef totally kicked ass! Everything was so good I almost bought a gun and a ranch just so I could have the full experience. I decided against it though since I hear hunting involves getting up really early. And by the way, even if you don’t eat meat, never ever pass up the chance to say, “I’ll have the yak.”
About the fois gras battle… Those against say its goose abuse, those for say it isn’t. (Fois gras geese are overfed which swells their livers and makes them yummy.) I don’t have a lot of goose experience so I’m not able to give an honest opinion either way. Maybe I’ll swing by the farm at feeding time and see for myself. I wonder though, are there starving geese out there that would kill to have too much to eat? Americans are fat and overfed, doesn’t fois gras just mirror our way of life? Should this really be such a big deal for the bay area anyway? Here in San Francisco, homeless people are free to wallow in their own piss on the freezing concrete but damned if a goose is going to get fattened up on my watch! Priorities are cute like that.
The other issue I’m having is the dinner party. My wife wants to throw a nice holiday dinner party for around 15 people. I’m the cook in the house so the menu is up to me. My first thought was Cioppino. Big-time traditional x-mas food and local crab is in season in the bay area. I made it last year for the family and people pretty much wet themselves. We have a couple of friends coming who don’t eat seafood though so something with fish, clams, mussels, crab, scallops, and shrimp might make someone cry. My next thought was to do a leg of lamb. Some people won’t eat lamb though. Too cuddly? So prime rib right? Nope, some people don’t eat beef. A nice pasta would be good but with that many people there’s bound to be overcooking issues trying to get it all plated. Well hell, I am not doing chicken! If people want chicken they can go to KFC. Rare are the opportunities for me to kick it up notches and really get my chef on for a crowd so I’m not about to waste a day cooking some mundane-wedding-reception-middle-of-the-road chicken kiev! What, just because chickens are ugly and don’t have fur they are the one universally acceptable meat? I’ll bet the average person would kick a chicken and then let little Lamby ride in the front seat.
When did meat become such a problem? You hear the argument that humans weren’t meant to eat meat, that we aren’t adapted for it. I’ve read that anthropologists have found evidence that we’ve been eating meat for 2.5 million years! I could go out on the curb right now and see some humans, fois gras humans! If we weren’t meant to eat meat I doubt that eating it for 2.5 million years would have lead to the current cost of living in the bay area. Overcrowding is rarely a symptom of a species not getting the right foods.
We’re the first generation with this issue. (As far as I know anyway.) When I was in high school my dad made a seafood pasta one night and in the middle of dinner my grandpa disappeared for a while. He showed up later with a steak on a plate, set it down in front of me and said to my dad, “The boy needs meat.” In Grandpa’s day if you shelled out for prime rib, everyone at the table is eating red meat and god damn well better like it!
I’ll readily admit that the way food animals are treated in this country needs improvement though. I do my part by buying all my meats at Whole Foods since they don’t sell anything corn fed, caged, hormonally enhanced, or hopped up on antibiotics. Hello Mr. Cow, I hope you’ve had a pleasant walk in the meadow this morning, now get on the plate please. That’s nice right? Isn’t it better for Mr. Cow to buy it instantly in the slaughterhouse than to get run down and slowly torn apart by hyenas?
Yeah, if I had a ranch of my own, I’d go all Ted Nugent and live off the land but my company doesn’t let us telecommute so I have to stay in the city.
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11.24.03 @ 4:20p
I love Whole Foods, but man, they're a rip off. The news just showed where the same brand of free range chicken was 3 times as expensive at Whole Foods than at Safeway.
I think Whole Foods plays to the yuppies who want to think they're being good environmental citizens by paying more for everything.
11.24.03 @ 4:54p
Very true Matt, if you tried to do all your shopping there you'd go broke quick. They always have a good sale going in the meat counter though. I usually decide what's for dinner based on that and then pick up pretty much everthing else at Trader Joe's.
11.24.03 @ 5:38p
There is really only one way, I know of, to enjoy fresh meat with a perfectly clear conscience:
All you have to do, is sit at the end of my driveway until your unfortunate entree decides to go for it, and cross the highway. And as an added bonus, by the time you get it dug out of the Buick's radiator, it's already partially cooked. I can't, however, recommend the decapitated turkey, because that was just about the nastiest thing I ever attempted to eat.
(besides Trina Lacefield, of course)
11.24.03 @ 9:59p
I don't necessarily have a problem with meat -
(no jokes. Please.)
- but red meat in particular has a problem with me. We don't, shall it be said, always agree, so I usually avoid it.
Meat processing, however, can be a nasty business, and sometimes, that knowledge really grosses me out. I am currently researching other meat purchasing options, thinking that I may pay a little more for it, but at least I'll know what went in the sausage.
I know some deer hunters who are extremely particular about the way everything is cleaned and processed. There's not a thing wrong with not wanting bone or entrail fillers in your ground venison.
Read Fast Food Nation. In this day and age, it makes The Jungle seem like a comic book.
11.24.03 @ 10:17p
Fast Food Nation really surprised you? Very little about the actual meat processing part was a shock.
There's shit (both literally and figuratively) in everything we eat that's processed.
11.25.03 @ 8:50a
I didn't say it surprised me -I said it grosses me out. What does surprise me is that for all our technological and health regulation advances, it's still allowed to go on.
11.25.03 @ 11:15a
The problem is that people want to eat beef everyday and to keep it affordable, the processing of it has to be cheap and fast. This of course makes it nasty. Beef should be expensive and you should get what you pay for.