Sunday, July 15, 2012

Some things never change.

- Prologue –

After reading about why my friend doesn’t eat meat, I started reflecting on why I do. Like her, I make no judgments about people of either persuasion.  And we both agree about health and nutrition, at least on an academic level.  So, how we developed different eating habits seems to have very little to do with pride, health, or nutrition, and very much to do with simple disgust or fondness of what we are eating, as the case may be.

- Lecture -

Is it possible I am predisposed to want certain foods – or is it just called being a hungry man?  Ever since I was a child, I have had an urge to eat real meat – much to my mother’s dismay.  Of course, from an early age my mother could not bring herself to eat real meat, or anything that had once had eyes – much to her mother’s dismay. But, there has probably never been a child that didn’t disturb its parents with its eating habits.  In my case, perhaps my ancestral Vikings left their mark.  Maybe I am genetically gifted with the ability to appreciate meat of all kinds, even sardines (though pickled herring is a stretch).  Genetics aside however, I’m sure the Vikings, despite their rather unsavory lifestyle, had some very savory cooking techniques. Roaming all over Sweden, Ireland, and who knows where else, they had free access to all sorts of things that would be excellent BBQ, roasted on a spit because that’s the coolest way.  I imagine this BBQ included lots of beef, pork, lamb, because why would they hunt when they could just pillage a farmer’s barn.

But enough with Vikings, hopefully the majority of my relatives were honest, hard-working citizens.  The point here is: people have always needed to eat, and for almost as long have been eating meat. Even here in Loma Linda, the blue zone, the nonhippie-vegetarian capital of the world, people spend large amounts of money buying “veggie foods”, or soy and gluten based meat alternatives.

Even though I would prefer to camp at the Ritz Carlton, I can be coaxed out camping in some wilderness if it involves cooking over a fire.  You see, I get excited when I see something like, “How to cook fish on a rock,” or “cooking chicken using a primitive method.”  A few years ago I went on a church campout with my campfire rotisserie.  A friend brought a leg of lamb, and we roasted over the main fire one night.  There is nothing quite so satisfying as roasting leg of lamb on an outdoor rotisserie.  Of course, the vegetarians were not excited – but when they realized it could roast 8 tofu-dogs at a time, they were ready to patent the rotisserie as a vegetarian’s campout essential.

I live about 45 minutes from what is known as “The happiest place on earth.”  But once a year, Disneyland loses that distinction to the little farm in the Pacific Northwest hosting the Burning Beast.  This year, the feast in a field happens today, July 15, 2012.  Some of Seattle’s best and brightest chefs head out to help everyone reconnect with their primal roots in cooking.  The fires, the wood smoke, the smell of BBQ filling the valley… Disneyland is probably deserted. 

- Epilogue -

For me, eating meat is not a matter of morals, spirituality, or principal, rather it’s a matter of enjoying the culinary experience – no matter how primitive.  At the same time, it is important to be a responsible meat eater.  It is getting harder to be a carnivore – especially when it comes to seafood.  State fishing and hunting packets now include warnings about the health hazards of consuming wild game, due to chemical contamination.  It makes the Tofurky a little more appealing, but I hope there will always be ways to go outside and roast some meat on a spit - or at least order from the grill at a Ritz Carlton.

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