Meat From My Childhood

15 Nov

Recently, I had shown the kids a movie about meat. I thought to enlighten them (and me) about where that Golden Arches “beef” patty they so naively order originates. I’m not sure the movie served my purpose of scaring them into eating less of the fast food, processed meat, in so much as it diverted their attention away from ordering burgers and substituting them with chicken. The fact that these fast food chickens were also processed didn’t seem to register with them. What they had seen mostly in the movie were beef cattle. Compared to them, the chickens didn’t seem so bad. It’s amazing the amount of mind-bending adolescents can manage in the name of fast food noshing.

Even though the movie didn’t satisfy all of my intentions, it did manage to remind me of a time when meat was meat. There were real butchers with real bloody-white aprons running family shops who knew where their meat came from. A few of those butchers supplied Kaukab with her’s. Usually every other Saturday, Kaukab would pronounce  to my father that it was time to go to the West Side Market to buy enough meat and fish to feed her family of seven. In those days, the Market was better known to middle-class immigrants who knew the importance of quality food products at a good price.

Once home, the meat and fish (sometimes, octupus) were carefully unwrapped from their paper wrappers and sorted out for partition to be used for numerous meals throughout the next few weeks. They would often buy large slabs of beef, from which my father would carefully cut several assortments to be used in stews, soups, and various stuffed vegetable dishes–my father pushing cubes of meat into Kaukab’s hand meat grinder while I watched, mesmorized by the yarn-like product spilling into the large bowl below.

The best part came when my father fed us a special treat of raw sirloin or filet he’d cut into small squares, lightly dusted with salt and wrapped in a small torn piece of pita bread. There we were, five little kids all seated around Kaukab’s table, waiting for our pieces, noshing quietly on raw meat, like contented lion cubs.

2 Responses to “Meat From My Childhood”

  1. Agnes 11/15/2010 at 1:38 pm #

    My parents still buy a lot of their meat from a real butcher. I remember going with my dad every Saturday while he took a number and waited to order all the different cuts of beef, lamb and pork. I still remember the smell of the shop – not unpleasant – and the fact that there was always a layer of sawdust on the floor, for whatever reason.

    My kids have experienced the same revelations about the origins of McD’s meat, and have reacted in varying ways. Youngest says she’ll never eat anything from McD’s again. Middle says she never liked the place anyway. Eldest prefers Taco Bell, but isn’t all that concerned about the meat thing.

    • mymotherstable 11/15/2010 at 6:58 pm #

      Unfortunately, that meat touches nearly every fast food and supermarket counter. Bleh.

      I’m trying to stay away from anything ‘ground,’ even though I know, deep down, that all the meat, poultry, and some fish is processed in some way. The worst part of the movie is watching the processing plants. Nauseating. And, pretty scary.

      Hubby took out his trusty Kitchen-Aid meat grinder attachment and used it to turn my chuck beef cubes into a nice, true-red, lean, lean ground chuck, for tacos last night. So much better, even though, again, I know the original meat wasn’t likely homegrown, unless Aldi’s counts?

      Kaukab’s daughter

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