Thursday, July 10, 2008

No Store-bought Meat, for sure

Wednesday July 9, 2008

After several mishaps borne of being essentially first-timers in the kill-your-own-dinner circle and just plain exhaustion, tonight we feast on our own homegrown lamb. Right now it is baking inside green peppers. We’d planned to do this Sunday evening, only to discover, about 20% into the prep for dinner that in my zeal to be safe and sanitary, I’d spirited every last package of newly-butchered meat to Sandy’s cold storage. She was closed by this time and Monday’s her store is shuttered, so it would have to wait until Tuesday. Only, yesterday came and by the time I was there to pick up the solid bricks of ground lamb, it seemed a little absurd to go through the machinations required to use the meat on the same night.

So, tonight. I have to say, with something close to embarrassment, that I’m a little shocked at how different truly fresh meat behaves. All these books and tales I’ve read over especially the last two years, wherein chefs and would-be chefs stumble on a completely Other culinary world in the small villages of Italy and France, I finally understand. Certainly, all along I’ve muttered yes, yes, of course, a life-changing experience to handle meat and vegetables and wine all grown within a few miles. Yes, yes, of course it’s better! Of course it changes you – and these chefs and cooks and writers and lovers of simple food can no longer live, really, in North America because they just can’t go home again – not to the home that churns out food on a conveyer belt and demands gratitude for the plenty. I got that.

But, wow. After buying organic and grass-fed and all that for a while now, I guess I really didn’t appreciate that at its essence this is all still factory food and now, well now, we are – just starting – to do something very different. Tonight I cook with the lowest of the low - the ground meat, the meat not really fit to do anything else with. And, yet, from the moment I put it in the pan it was like no other meat I’d ever cooked. No smell, no clumping. Quickly and evenly cooking with the other ingredients.

This is a different food. Just like our discovery that the lowly potato is a completely different vegetable any way you cook it if it’s just been pulled from your own dirt, we are about to embark on months of Meat Discovery.

Thursday, July 10

Well, it’s official. Our lamb is yummy. Very, very yummy. I now understand why people who have raised lamb or purchased friend’s lamb have practically tackled us when discovering we are getting ready to slaughter.

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