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Meatless Monday Thoughts: On Eating Animals and Dreaming of Turkeys

28 Mar southern ground hornbills

Can't you feel him judging you?

Awhile ago I mentioned picking up a few food-related books at the library, among them Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. I was skeptical because of its legendary ability to turn readers vegetarian, and as I began reading it I was unconvinced. I’m a Foer fan, but so far (I’m only a third of the way through) he just seems smug and arrogant. There’s absolutely no wiggle room: you either agree with him and give up meat, or you’re completely ignorant (and kind of evil). Seriously, he probably judges lions every time they take down a gazelle. His tone was really starting to annoy me.

Then, I had a dream about a turkey.

Kind of too cute to be bacon

Now, like I told Adam, this could just be from spending too long on the ZooBorns site before bedtime. The site, which I discovered while filling out my NCAA bracket (clearly I needed to see a real bearcat), features baby animals from all over the world. There are palm-sized monkeys, muppet-like sloths, and over-the-top-adorable miniature donkeys. There’s a pig-like creature so cute it made me momentarily reconsider the deliciousness of bacon. And then there’s the Southern Ground Hornbill.

not exactly adorable

This is not a cute baby animal. I mean, I know all the people who care for the animals have to love them all the same, but this is the baby in the nursery that looks like an alien. Actually, it reminds me of one of those challenges on Top Chef when they all have to cook with strange proteins- this could easily have been one of the proteins (if it weren’t endangered). And instead of one of the fluffy, cuddly baby animals, this is the one that somehow made its way into my dream.

You see, the turkey in my dream wasn’t a big, proud, feathered turkey. It was a featherless adolescent that showed up in my apartment, as if it was my new pet. I didn’t know what to feed it, I didn’t know how to tell Adam about it and, most of all, I didn’t know how to keep eating meat. I was seriously planning a blog post in my head (in the dream) in which I admitted omnivorous defeat at the hands pen of Jonathan Safran Foer.

Then I woke up, and all was right with the world.

Except…

It does make me reconsider Foer’s argument about companion animals. Our decision ‘to eat or not to eat’ is closely tied to whether or not a particular animal is a pet. My dream turkey was definitely a pet, and it made me immediately uncomfortable about the idea of eating poultry. So dream Alex (with a pet turkey) is vegetarian but waking Alex (pet-free) loves Popeye’s? Clearly, this ‘pet’ designation is completely arbitrary. I mean, I look at the capybara and see a mammoth guinea pig, i.e. a pet. I’m sure that people from other cultures look at a capybara and see lunch.

It's just like your third grade class pet!

 

So maybe this dream has me thinking a little too much (or, for Foer, not nearly enough).

What do you think?

*Click on photos for sources

My new favorite sin: candied bacon!

2 Mar IMG_3272

I’ve never really been a good Jewish girl as far as food is concerned. I love shellfish, cheeseburgers and, of course, bacon. There was one Passover when my mom scolded me for eating ham, but that’s about the extent of our attempt at Kosher-ness. And since my love for bacon falls only slightly below my love of olives (both below cheese and chocolate), as soon as I saw this piece on unusual candied foods, I just had to try the bacon.

The process was actually pretty simple. I had to adjust a little, since I got a 12oz package of bacon (the only nitrite/nitrate-free choice). And while the instructions called for using just one spice I used a combo of cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg. The pinch of cayenne gave it a nice burn at the end to balance out the sweetness. My one problem was what to do with the finished product. My original plan was to use it as a topping on leftover cauliflower gratin. After snacking on taste-testing a few pieces, however, I didn’t really want more with my dinner. I tried it for lunch on a peanut butter and banana sandwich (amazing), and I think it could be great on a Cobb-type salad.

Any other suggestions for using candied bacon?

ready to go in the oven

draining (a few pieces didn't make it)

a bowl of 'yum!'

Here’s the recipe, so you can indulge too!

Candied Bacon

(adapted from Organic Authority)

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon olive oil

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground spice of choice (try cumin, chili powder or cinnamon)

1 pound sliced bacon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking pan with foil, and place a broiler rack on top of the pan. Coat the rack with oil.

Mix sugar and spices in a large bowl. Add bacon and press mixture onto each bacon slice. Place bacon slice on oiled rack in a single layer, sprinkling with any remaining sugar mixture.

Bake until bacon is nice and crispy, about 20 minutes. Transfer to towels to drain, then transfer to a dish to cool completely.

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