— this is really happening

lessons in meat

I’m taking meat lessons. My teachers are many, and they are not necessarily human. In fact, if my life were a University and I was getting Monica U. credit right now, I think I’d call this era “Meat 114.” The topic is tackling me, not I, it. The  lessons are coming from all directions, every day new and fresh, and like a London Broil in the oven on high, what’s the point in stopping it?  It’s going to take awhile to cook all the way through, anyway.

There are the “100% beef” MacDonald’s billboards strewn around Oakland that make me think about why the fast food chain would need or want to declare a hamburger to be 100% beef in the first place. Then, I’m staring at the oblivious-to-politics gourmet cookbook I purchased at a fancy restaurant in the wine country and wondering how to better flavor my Pulled Pork. Next, I’ve got MikeC the cooking warrior and proprietor of Kitchen On Fire where I am taking a twelve-week cooking class, dancing nancies in my ear and teaching me how to grill and braise and sautee and make it all taste good. Farmer John‘s documentary dazzled me again last week and got me touring online library stacks about CSAs and raising animal care standards, gestation stalls, beek trimming, and space allowances. Oh, and of course I am always being positively influenced by the ever-fierce comrade of mine (the one with the child’s mind full of cupboards and drawers). She has been filling up my head with many ways to consider being a carnivore and a good person all at the same instant. Still, beneath it all, I can’t seem to shake the suspicious smells of the alleys in Chinatown and wonder where my meat comes from.

Yup, I’m in meat lesson land. Join me if you’d like, no application necessary, A’s are given every day. And here’s my sustainable, hormone-free pork shoulder attempt. The rich salt rub mixed with hickory smoked paprika didn’t mean a thing in this sad case; this piece was devoured by fire before I had a chance to save it. I didn’t throw it away, though. As I can’t compost meat in Oakland because it attracts critters and smells god awful, I’ve explored alternatives. Haven’t tried it yet, but on the horizon are some cat food solutions for meat waste, as well as a recipe to make seven pounds of soap with two pounds of unused meat fat. Huzzah!

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