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June 15, 2010

Top Ten excuses for bringing your own beef to the neighborhood cook-out

hamburgerI have what I consider to be a perfectly rational fear of industrial beef, one that anyone who's seen "Food Inc." or read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" should understand.

Which makes this, the season of potluck cook-outs, a little awkward.

Somebody invites the family over for burgers and hot dogs. Are you going to inquire about the provenance of the meat?

"Just so I bring the right wine, let me ask: Will you be serving grass-fed beef or downer cattle?"

It'd be easier to feign vegetarianism than to explain a preference for meat that hasn't dined on ground-up animal parts, wallowed ankle deep in feedlot manure or flown through an industrial slaughterhouse.

Vegetarians care about animals. Who's going to fault them for that? But meat snobs come across as snob snobs: "Your meat's not good enough for me."

I'm fortunate to live on a street where there are lots of neighborhood gatherings. By now, my neighbors know I'm going to bring my own burgers. They might roll their eyes or even tease me, but nobody's offended.

But just last week, I found myself conspiring with my husband to sneak a Whole Foods hot dog to our daughter at her school cookout. Could my husband, who was helping out at the event, have simply been open about it? Could he have said to the teacher, "I've brought a natural hot dog for my daughter and anyone else who wants one"?

Probably. But I took the coward's way out. I asked him to slip the dog to her if possible, which he managed to do while handing out buns.

If sneaky hadn't worked, my husband had instructions to throw me under the bus: "Tell them I'm neurotic." Which is true enough.

And which brings me to this week's list

Top Ten excuses for bringing your own beef to the neighborhood cook-out

1. I'm a New York Times subscriber.

2. We're not vegetarians, we just want our cows to be.

3. We are vegetarians. And isn't it amazing what they can do with tofu these days? These "veggie" burgers we've brought could pass for the real thing!

4. We ate at home.

5. The whole family just got off Atkins and, boy, are we tired of meat! Just a burger bun with ketchup will do it for us.

6. This ambrosia is sooo tasty, I could make a meal of it!

7. We gave up industrial meat for Lent, which our parish is observing year-round. 

8. We've just converted to (pick one) Islam/Judaism, so we've brought our own halal/kosher meat.

9. You said, "Bring a side DISH"? I thought you said, "side of BEEF." Might as well serve it.

10. What a deal they had on meat at the farmers' market today! Put yours in the freezer. I insist. It's my treat.


iStock Photo

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:39 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays




"Oh it's not ground beef, it's venison! We LOVE bambi burgers!

"Oh it's not ground beef, it's venison ... that we hit with our car. he poor thing was struggling and kicking, so Ted showed little Bobby how to slit his throat and put hi out of his misery. Bon appetit!

"My neighbor grinds his own meat. It's groundhog. Watch out for buckshot."

"Guess what it's made of! Come on! Guess! You will NEVER guess what it's made from."

"It's made from the animals that my son's cult ritually sacrifices to the god Baal. Don't worry, it's been purified of evil by the Snake Lord."

"You know that in Asia that eat everything: cats, dogs, monkeys. We have so many cultural taboos here."

"It's amazing what they can do with stem cells."

"It's prayer meat"

"I found it in a bag over there"

"I put something 'special' in it, if you know what I mean?"

"Don't put it directly in the flames. It might explode."

"Do you believe in re-incarnation?"

It's grass-fed, free-range, hormone-free, antibiotic-free beef I got at the Amish Market.

Good luck with that! LV

@summer - ditto

We had a picnic on Memorial Day weekend and because, like you, we also have strong feelings about this issue hubby sent out an email beforehand asking if anyone had any food allergies we should be aware of and let everyone know that we would be serving organic, grass fed beef burgers, nitrate-free hot dogs, and that veggie burgers would be available on request. It might have seemed like a really uptight or food-snobbish thing to some people, but most guests really appreciated it as they steer clear (pardon, lol) of the industrial meat.

hahahahahaha! I loved this post, it sounds VERY familiar :)

"Oh, you don't really want to know; we've been teaching the kids about the life cycle."

We had a BBQ over Memorial weekend, and someone brought their own hamburger meat. I had to stop hostessing and prepare their burgers for them. I found it amusing considering the meat we had was already grass fed, hormone free, free range, local meat. But I guess they just assumed it wasn't.

LV, the solution is to keep packages of ground bison in the freezer--Safeway, Giant and Graul's all carry one-pound packs. Then, when you go to a cookout, take a pack and say you're cutting down on fat (bison has less fat and cholesterol than white meat chicken). It doesn't taste like beef, but it IS meaty and delicious. One caveat, don't cook bison past medium doneness unless you enjoy dry, flavorless meat.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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