Canada is known for so much: The maple leaf, cheap Viagra and so many beavers — the latter two being regrettably unrelated. Canadians are also known for being chronically friendly, but so are most puppies so I’m not even sure if I can give them that one.
But this post isn’t about beavers or puppies, it’s about poutine (pronounced POOH-TIN — Thanks Johr!). Poutine is a Quebecois dish that is French fries, brown gravy and cheese curds. Dreamy, right?
I know what you’re thinking. I’ve been silent for a month and I come to you with rabbit food? Well hear me out, I promise it’ll be worth it. This side of the blogosphere has been dark for the last month, because it’s been a pretty dark time for me. See, my stomach and I are having issues. The issue being that my stomach is an asshole.
We’ve been arguing for years, and in its seething resentment toward me, I’ve found that breads and pastas weigh like a ton in my stomach and the aftermath of eating chocolate is like a dull kick to the vagina. And if my stomach were a man I WOULD FIGHT IT.
I’d arrived at the grocery store – the third grocery store within a half hour – looking for quail. You know quail. It’s a small bird. It’s a small bird that is hunted for its small meat for no real reason other than people can eat it, so we do. Except for those of us living in Tampa, because nobody knows what a quail even is.
My initial vision for this dish was a tiny quail on a soft bed of wild rice, roasted with a spicy lime quail egg mayo. The poultry lady at the store looked confused and offered up her assistance, “so…you mean you want a Cornish hen?”
I was exhausted. After running around town and coming up empty, I the bitter sense of defeat lingered over my head like an Acme anvil attached to an unthreaded rope. I let out an exasperated sigh that may have come off as rude, which I recognized immediately, and offered up a smile to offset the sigh before throwing my hands in the air and saying, “ok, lady! Take me to your Cornish hens!”
After the events of this previous week, I’ve started reassessing my stance on pumpkin-flavored things. It was last Monday night that my car was obliterated by an angry drunk with a rap sheet the length of my forearm when I had a pumpkin spiced latte, but I thought little of the correlation.
It wasn’t until Thursday that a single lump of pumpkin gnocchi smothered in a viscous maple beurre blanc found itself lodged in my throat with nobody around to help but the cat, who looked neither concerned nor impressed, that I caught on: Pumpkin means danger.
But thinking of those children starving in various multisyllabic faraway countries, whom I’ve dubiously been told would be happy to eat a variety of oddly-prepared, ill-fated foods I rejected growing up, I side-eyed my remaining pumpkin puree and sighed. Stuck halfway between duty and hazard, I broke out the puree, which of course meant only one thing: I was probably going to catch dysentery.
Except I instead got risotto.
There, in a town, that just might be yours
were gruesome displays of violent gore.
Of scenes very bloody and horrors untold
where bodies-turned-dishes were eaten and sold.
Dozens went missing, the young and the old,
and none of them knew how their end would unfold:
The town’s chef would claim a victim or two
and put them in dishes that gained rave reviews.
I don’t really like when posts start with “It’s that time of year again!” because it’s always “that time of year” for something, isn’t it? Winter is for peppermint and pine scented house sprays; spring is for baskets of greens and raging allergies; summer is the time for coconuts and tans; and fall is when the pumpkins infiltrate everything.
But sure, I guess it’s that time of year again: Pumpkin time.
Not to sound like a negative turd, but I’m glad that pumpkins are only really revered one month out of the year. We puree their flesh and fold it into pies, roast the seeds that send sharp shards tumbling down our throats, and then whittle their hollow bodies them into jagged-toothed monsters or squint-eyed Bill Cosby effigies. Which means that not only are pumpkins everywhere, but they now also have eyes and are watching you always.
My friend Heather — an old friend whose dirty mouth rivals my own — told me about a place. A special place. A special place where one can buy locally-raised meat, and where the animals are fed a diet conducive to healthy, happy lives while being allowed to roam free in pastures in humane conditions. When you read as much as I do about the horrors of America’s food production and its many, um, hiccups, hearing about such a place is like being told that fairies are not only real but also delicious.
So last weekend my friend Dee and I decided to investigate.
The sun was high above us and it’s warmth beat down our bare arms through the car windows as we drove through the countryside. Swarms of lovebugs slapped against my windshield as we barreled through the dirt roads toward the 400+ acre farm.
Torm, the owner of Pasture Prime and one half of the manpower behind its operation, had agreed to meet us on short notice after I’d contacted him the night prior asking if I could drop by the farm to pick up my order. Dee and I ended up spending an hour and a half with him as he gave us the tour of its operation.
“I believe in transparency,” said Torm as we drove through a large grassy field, droves of feeding cattle haring from the moving nose of Torm’s slow-moving truck. Most mooed and side-eyed us with disapproval, but one heifer kept excitedly attempting to mount the other heifers, because heifers be so cray.