Friday, April 2, 2010

The Magical, Edible Pig

The best thing about the non-winter seasons in Minnesota is being able to crack open a couple beers and throw some hunks of meat on the grill without shoveling a path and freezing my ass off. As soon as the snow is gone I often find myself standing in my favorite butcher shop, gnawing on a beef stick, staring at the huge assortment of chops, roasts and ribs, thinking "Man, it would suck to be a vegetarian."

It's not that I need to eat meat at every meal, but the addition of some turkey to a sandwich or some beef to a burger definitely makes meals more appetizing. There have been times when I've made a meat-free dinner, but it's usually by accident and I'm usually starving as soon as the last plate is loaded into the dishwasher. I occasionally eat fish and have tried veggie burgers and tofu, but inevitably I always end up making something that has clucked, mooed or oinked.

When it comes to what kind of animals I cook and consume, I'm not very adventurous and I mostly stick to the boring standards: beef, chicken, turkey and of course my favorite animal of all time, the pig. Even Zoe (who is not much of a carnivore) will happily eat pork tenderloin, gnaw on a BBQ rib and has yet to find a hunk of ham that she doesn't like. And I'm pretty sure that even vegetarians enjoy a piece of smoked, thick-cut bacon once in a while.

Yeah, I like Thanksgiving turkey and last year I made a great pot of beef-filled chili on Christmas Eve, but Easter is my favorite holiday when it comes to food because it's pig from morning to night. Bacon with breakfast, a midday ham dinner, and then ham sandwiches in the evening. Plus, there's always leftovers that can be thrown into an omelette, tossed with some pasta or eaten without utensils right out of the fridge. Pigs, though filthy and slightly fragrant, are delicious.

I realize that I could, and maybe should, be more open-minded about what meats are edible and that the best places to broaden my culinary horizons are at ethnic grocery stores and meat markets. While I was out running errands a few days ago I noticed an ethnic shop conveniently located next door to my tailor, and judging by the storefront I assume that it's a butcher. I could just run in and pick up a unique hunk of meat, right after I drop off my dress!

And then I looked down at the sidewalk in front of the store:

And that's when I decided that although some people may enjoy shopping here, my horizons really don't need any broadening and on Sunday I'll be happily chowing down on a boring, predictable, Easter pig which, if you notice, they don't even bother to sell at this butcher. But at least they have camel and goat.

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