adapted from my blog, Putting It Out There
Note: This was written during an anti-meat phase. I am currently eating meat more frequently (as much as once day, sometimes less), to help boost my hemoglobin. Pork remains a problem for me. ~ Lynn
I call myself a meat flip flopper.
Ruth and Bill. Rhoda. Thanksgiving and Christmas. Chuck.
They’re the link to my complex relationship with meat and sometimes poultry. But there were others.
Bob and Ruth were the names of my best friend from Kindergarten’s parents.
When my own mom and dad decided to move us away from our sweet, little, green house on a suburban Chicago busy street waaaaay out to a farmstead in the middle of nowhere, Bob and Ruth were the chosen names for the matriarch and patriarch of our muskovy ducks (my younger brother’s responsibility and winner of many 4-H awards).
Rhoda was our first pig. Named after Rhoda Morgenstern (you know, the show Rhoda?). I’ll never forget the day we sent her away. My parents and older brother tried to corral her into our small trailer, but she was a stubborn one. I was supposed to be helping, but I was too busy crying behind the duck house.
Chuck was one of our beef animals. Black angus, I believe. Each year, we raised one beef animal from bottle-fed-calf up to prime-for-eating. We’d walk past their stall and they’d give us a lick with their long, rough tongue.
A tongue I’d later see wrapped up in the freezer although I don’t recall ever having that as a meal (unless my mom slipped it into a stew, which she would deny).
When people came to visit, they’d ask who we were eating.
One of us would casually announce the meat’s name. And we were great at naming. Beef? Patti, Chuck and Sir Loin. A couple others that didn’t get actual meat product names, like Christy. The best hamburgers I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Besides Rhoda the pig, there was Bacon and Hambone. Our neighbor worked at a dairy company and would bring home buckets of cottage cheese past their sell-by date which my dad hand fed to the pigs. I think that’s what made them so tasty. Yes. They were tasty at the time. My mom even used the lard for cooking, which grosses me out to think about it now. I’m a bit squirmy about eating pork to this day, unless it’s that fall-off-the-bone shoulder roast.
There were so many ducks over the years—Ruth and Bill’s offspring. The human Ruth and Bill were Catholic with six kids. Ruth and Bill the ducks had countless ducklings that, instead of leaving for college, were sent to the butcher and returned to reside close to their parents in our freezer and, later, bellies. The only other duck name I remember is Lucky. He was the one that survived the fox killing spree. Eventually we ate him so … not so Lucky.
We raised chickens for a while but didn’t name them at all. While adorable as chicks, they were short on personality.
Thanksgiving and Christmas were the turkeys my parents raised during their early empty nester years. T & C would follow my mom around thinking she was their mother. We proceeded to eat them for Thanksgiving, the other on… Well you know where that goes. As a side note, my two brothers and I each raised a Jersey cow from calf to cow. We drank the rich raw milk. Nothing like it in the world. We’d have them bred, selecting the dad (sire) from breeder photos. Maybe that’s the reason I dislike shopping to this day…
Our dinners were beef, duck, pork. Beef. Beef. Pork. Duck. Duck. But never a goose. That was just the way it was.
At home I serve the kind of food I know the story behind. ~Michael Pollan