I try to keep a list of things I want to blog about. Sometimes they’re specific (“crazy chips from Big Lots”) and sometimes they’re more vague. Case in point, I’ve had “using the whole turkey” on my list since I came home from my mom’s house over Thanksgiving.
I had kinda forgotten where I intended to go with that idea when my husband sent me a link to Bill Buford’s article in this week’s New Yorker.
The article is mostly about cookbooks that emphasize using offal (the animal bits most of us have stopped eating) but this paragraph reminded me what I was going to write about (emphasis mine):
“Why is it considered entertainment when a predator kills another animal in a wild-life film, Fearnley-Whittingstall wonders, ‘whereas the final moments of human predation of our farmed livestock are considered too disturbing and shameful to be made available even for information.’ The reader understands the point. Meat comes from an animal–a banal connection that has been obscured by the way supermarkets prepare and present our food–and the animal has to be killed. If you fear the sight of a carcass, you shouldn’t be eating from it.“
As I’ve mentioned before, I was a fairly hard-core vegetarian (and sometime vegan) for many years — if anyone was going to be squeamish about the Thanksgiving turkey carcass, it seems like it should have been me, right?
But instead, it was my omnivorous mom and sister who were eew-ing and ugh-ing over the turkey remains.
Once the turkey had cooled, I washed my hands, rolled up my sleeves and pulled the remaining meat off the bones by hand. I picked everything off, save some few tenacious bits clinging to the bones. As I filled two containers with meat (so my mom could throw out the bones — something that almost made me cry), I remarked on how much meat there was left on this turkey, and my mom said she doesn’t usually bother to get all the meat off a turkey. (Then she compared me to my great-grandmother in way I don’t think she meant to be flattering, but I still decided to take it as such.)
The last straw was when I offered to show my sister the inside of the turkey’s body, where you can see how the ribs and spine meet. I think it’s neat. My sister got grossed out and let the room — and my mom scolded me!
Now, I don’t think my mother reads this, but I still certainly don’t mean to be down on her or my sister. I think the way a lot of American want their meat is really summed up by something my mom said: “I just want to buy meat that’s completely removed from wherever it came from.”
And I don’t get that.
The more I think about it, the more it strikes me… disrespectful. Not intentionally, of course, but still. If you’re going to eat an animal, then the least you can do is, well, eat it. All of it. Not just the white meat, not just the bits you don’t find offensive — as much of it as you can.
Just please don’t ask me to eat tripe again.