Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Well I want to be

Now that I think about it, my favorite part of Sunday was not anything that happened at the dinner party itself or even how the food tasted--it was probably sitting at home alone, listening to the cold rain outside and chopping up octopus.

My roommate John showed me this video on Saturday, which features one of his friends telling you how you can become an urban homesteader and take your goats for walks around Berkeley even if you have only two thumbs. It's the kind of thing that makes you want to ask "Jim, how did you get your life? How can I get your life?" It's a great video but depending on your disposition it's a little hard not to get a little squicked out five minutes in when Jim takes one of his rabbits, puts a pellet in its brain, and skins it.

I think that our culture is generally moving towards the idea of knowing more where our food comes from and recognizing that lamb chops don't fall off the lamb chop tree into shrink-wrapped packages--from all these trendy San Francisco restaurants that are serving live spot prawns and pork trotters to Campbell's soup commercials that name the farms on which their chickens are raised. I still think that for most people there remains a disconnect between the fact that we eat meat and the fact that meat comes from living, often adorable animals. I know people who run the gamut from "all I care about is that animals are tasty" to "I am a vegetarian except for eating sustainably-raised meat", and I would bet that just about all of them would still be pretty uncomfortable being present at the moment of an animal's death.

What Jim does in the video represents probably the closest interaction you can have with something you're going to eat for someone who lives in an urban environment. Although I'm still a long way from calming a rabbit as I cradle it in its last moments of life, I think that this weekend I took an infinitesimal step toward this ideal. Preparing an octopus, which looked identifiably like the octopuses that I have seen in aquariums, in such a way that involved the step "remove eyes", and then watching its little tentacles curl up in the pan as I seared it in hot oil, made me think a lot about how octopuses work. I also had some trepidation going to work with the bone marrow because I usually don't even like to eat it in restaurants, but somehow scraping the fresh marrow out of the bones--real bones, that felt like the ones in my arm--was not quite as traumatic as I thought, and actually kind of fun after a few minutes.

So, anyway, my point is this is a thousand mile journey that I have taken a single step toward. I've actually wanted to cook lobster at my house for a while, but I don't really like the taste of lobster at all so that seems like a waste.

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