Charcutepalooza: Dropout

A bit like a Beauty School Drop Out

but far less demeaning. Seriously? That clip is harsh!  Poor Frenchy.

Charcutepalooza is a year-long meat curing adventure involving a new meat challenge monthly.   I did January-(Duck Prosciutto) , February-Salt Curing (Bacon) and March-Brining (Corned Beef).  I missed April-Hot Smoking and now May-Grinding.

grow and resist charcutepalooza brining corned beef

Greatest hash I've had. Yes. I said it. It was awesome!

And I have no intention of doing June-Stuffing.  I guess now is where I have to realize I am dropping out of Charcutepalooza.  There are a lot of reasons. Not that you need them. But I have a big need to defend myself. I am totally working on this in therapy because I gotta tell you, it isn’t a characteristic that is beneficial to a relationship.   But since you don’t have to live with me I’m going to defend myself.

  1. Life. Due to a lot of things I haven’t prioritized meat curing. Or cooking for that matter. Things like a pretty ill father. A sick partner. An exuberant 3-year-old. Twelve chickens. One hairy dog. A bum back. A preoccupied and highly scattered mind.
  2. Expensive. Buying expensive cuts of meat for experimenting on a schedule isn’t working with our budget.   I just can not afford to buy meat to ‘play with’ that isn’t necessarily what anyone in our family is craving.
  3. Chicken Grossness Factor. Ever since my ill/injured chickens I am grossed out by eating chicken. Raising chickens for eggs had me well on my way, but the sick Calypso sealed the deal. I just can’t stomach chicken.
  4. Meat-is-Iffy. That chicken-eating ooginess has transferred to other meats in a somewhat random way.  Chicken is a no. Ground poultry is a no. I grilled lamb chops and couldn’t stomach them.  Lunch meat- hell no. But other things don’t skeeve me out.  Flank steak (well, steak in general), cheeseburgers and bacon don’t bother me at all.  And weirdly, store-bought salami is totally fine with me. I know!?
  5. Non-success. Not to be a quitter but meat curing isn’t a kind of habit I need to keep beating my head against the wall for.  The duck prosciutto is still in the freezer. Because a) I don’t like duck and b) it totally grossed me out to make it.   The bacon was totally salty- which was my error, but still. Didn’t add to the successful feelings.   Lastly, the corned beef was…well corned beef. It was fine corned beef. But how much corned beef can one eat? In my case it is once a year and I’ve now done twice and still have a slab in the freezer.
  6. Local availability. I also realized that I am lucky and grateful to live in an area where I can source local, sustainable and organic meat and meat products should I choose to eat it.  And I can buy it from vendors that I trust in regards to both ethics and ingredients. I can choose to support local farmers.  Buying it already cured/processed is cheaper when I add in my time, my sanity and my interest and consumption levels.
grow and resist charcutepalooza duck prosciutto

Check it out! Nice huh? If only I could eat it.

I have enormous appreciation for the folks that are participating and learning to prepare and cure their own meats.  People have come to Charcutepalooza for a myriad of reasons.  For sustainability.  For knowledge. For community.  For me the most interesting part is the investment people have shown in where their meat is sourced. The ethics, politics and general consciousness involved.

Everything we do is political- including what we eat.  We all make difficult choices in our lives and in our days and it isn’t always clear or easy.  I guess if I was being totally honest with myself (and with you), I’d admit that I was getting unsettled and a bit unhinged with the (self-induced) pressure to prepare something that I was also becoming increasingly uncomfortable eating.  I didn’t want my meat-eating to feel like a game I was participating in.

I don’t know why I feel so uncomfortable admitting that. Is it that I don’t like to do things half ass? I don’t want to be vegetarian. Because the meat that doesn’t gross me out I happen to love. I don’t eat it often but when I want it, I want it.

And I think it is annoying when people say things like “I’m vegetarian. You know. Except for the Bacon.”   In my mind it is a little “Sure, I’m straight. You know. Except for when I go out to the bars and start playing rugby.”  Oh wait, that last bit was me. Yeah, I was super annoying. Thank goodness that only lasted about a month.  The thinking I was straight. Not the rugby. Or the Queerness.

charcuterie, charcutepalooza, pork, bacon, grow and resist

Mmm, bacon!

Or is it that the Ladyfriend enjoys meat more than I do and I’m the cook?  It makes cooking more difficult for sure.

I don’t know why I have such a hard time with saying that. Maybe after I figure out my need to defend I’ll work on that!

But for now I’m dropping out. See ya’ Charcutepalooza.

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14 Responses to Charcutepalooza: Dropout

  1. Julia says:

    Meg, I understand SO well. It is expensive–one of the reasons I didn’t do the merguez, along with the grinder thing–and with a demanding toddler around there’s only so much time. Letting is go is fine! As you’ve already found out. Now get some sleep!

  2. Lois says:

    Clearly reasoned reasons and good choice making,Meg. You don’t need another thing on your plate (!) these days. See ya in august 4 pig roasting. Meanwhile, hugs & well wishes!

  3. I think this is indicative of a larger issue with which I am very familiar: We do what we do, and it’s enough. But we never, ever think it’s enough. And feel like we need to defend why we don’t home-make merguez sausage. Why is that? Honestly, this whole urban self-sufficiency thing gets a little daunting when we try to do as a rather isolated mom what the entire f-ing village would have taken on 150 years ago.

  4. Susan Gayle says:

    Hey, you’re doing what you need to do. I’m digging on the Charcutepalooza, but I couldn’t argue that I NEED to do it. Sometimes it’s not being a drop out, but making choices. Hope you stick around in spirit. I think we can always use another interesting person around.

  5. Marisa says:

    Truly, I’m impressed that you even gave Charcutepalooza a try. I knew from the get-go that I wouldn’t be able to hack it. There is no shame in deciding that you’re just not designed to cure your own meat!

  6. Shows good boundary setting skills to me….

  7. I hear you, Meg. I think I sort of knew that 12 months of meat was going to be too much for the amount that we eat; and I’m so picky about meat, not just the source, but the taste. It would have been too hard – but still, I was almost swayed at the beginning, caught up in all the enthusiam.

    I applaud your decision to call it a day: I know that, if it were me, I would grit my teeth and keep slogging along, even if it was a miserable slog. And, on that whole “you’re not a valid food/homesteading/garden/etc geek if you’re not…..” thing: I truly can’t stand that attitude, even though often I’ve brought it on myself. But it always brings me up short when a friend says to me “but I’ll never be as good as you (at recycling, canning, eating locally, whatever), so I might as well not bother.” Makes me CRAZY as that is the polar opposite of what I try to get across to people on my blog: that even if baby steps never lead you beyond baby steps, it’s all good. You’re still cooking dinner once a week (or month, or season) which is better than never cooking dinner at all. Even if that great butter from the farmer’s market is the only thing you buy locally: hey, that money is going to a local farmer, a neighbor, who is keeping green land in your neighborhood, spending your dollars in your local stores, and is probably treating his cows a hell of a lot better than any major dairy farm.

    There are days when I beat myself up because I still use paper towels: unbleached, 100% post-consumer recycled paper towels, that I rip in half when I use them, and THEN shred them and put them in the composter. But there are still times when I have this long internal dialogue about it. And I usually finish it by saying: “Jesus, Kaela. Get over yourself.” 😉

  8. Thanks everyone! I feel so relieved. One thing off my mind =)
    And Kaela- I was just lamenting not using paper towels anymore. I secretly love it when either set of parents comes to visit and buy them…because then I can use them. What am I supposed to blot bacon with? Shredding them? That is hardcore. I’d just toss them in the yard/food waste bin. I am lazy composter. I do it….but mostly via the city and not my own composter. I just do the chicken poop.

  9. Ah, well. Since we have the apartment-dweller’s mechanical composter, if I don’t shred them, they turn into a goopy wet ball of gunk that jams the turning mechanism. Then I have to dig it all out, un-jam it and get it going again. So turns out I am only saving myself work. Besides, sometimes the shredding is therapeutic. 🙂

  10. Memaw Elise says:

    Meg, good for you! And thanks for sharing your process with us. I personally am amazed with all you do. Anything to lighten your load is supported by me.

  11. Kate @ Snowflake Kitchen says:

    Like a lot of people above, I didn’t take on Charcuteapalooza in part (erm… in truth because it sort of grossed me out) but mostly because we straight up couldn’t afford it. We are on the tightest of tight budgets right now mostly because I have been floating between crappy-paying internships since graduating a year ago. I would love to try it – I think thats the point of a lot of these blogging challenges, to expand your ideas about cooking, but if its going to require crazy amounts of stress or you’re not going to enjoy the fruits of your labor, you can only put your energy somewhere else. All it takes is standing up and recognizing it wasn’t for you! I like to think that’s the hardest part…

  12. Traveling Mommy says:

    Meg, we are on our way tomorrow with paper towels!! I could not survive in the kitchen without them – sorry!! Anyway, good for you, you tried the meat thing and it wasn’t for you so why beat yourself up each month doing it!!! You do so much it amazes me! Can’t wait to see you and the babylady!

  13. I can’t say I’m gonna make the same call, but I definitely appreciate someone who has thought through their decisions and is living by what they say they believe in. Always a pleasure to see a little but more about your life!

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