Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Food-writers, readers, amateurs, answer me this:

Why are we meant to be horrified by what goes into a hot dog or chicken nuggets, while at the same time, snout-to-tail is a food-movement-approved, eco-friendly, gourmet way of getting rid of odd parts of the animal? Presumably it has something to do with how the meat was raised, but if the "ick" factor is about weird cuts of meat, or about the resulting dish being less good-for-you than a kale salad, I'm thinking this is a class distinction more than anything else.

6 comments:

Eamonn said...

the stuff in hot dogs, some burgers and chicken nuggets is produced by advanced meat recovery techniques in the abattoir. That means various methods of getting every scrap of flesh and gristle off the bone after the main cuts have been removed. So its a mush of stuff from all over the beast/s.

eating a recognizable bit of offal does seem a bit different to that

Phoebe said...

Different how, though? Plenty of gourmet odd-bits-of-meat also gets whipped into an unrecognizable foam. (Or so they say - I can remember the last time I had a hot dog, but not my last visit to a restaurant of that nature.) Part of the promotion of snout-to-tail is that it's less wasteful, and that we need to get over our squeamishness if we're going to eat animals ethically. Surely, with some major tweaks to the meat industry, the same could be true of hot dogs and chicken nuggets.

Eamonn said...

a pig's ear that's turned into a strawberry-flavored frozen mousse shaped like Lord Byron's pince nez *in the kitchen* still started off as a pig's ear.

Your hot dog is a paste produced in the abattoir.

So there's a difference of origin, even if there is subsequent arsing round with the preparation/presentation.

I can't believe I'm defending foodies...

Phoebe said...

OK. So the distinction is kitchen-abattoir. This only makes me more convinced the distinction is one of class - some food gets prepped by fancy chefs and their helpers, other food is prepared in less elegant circumstances. (Why am I now picturing cat-food ads, where a chef has made the fluffy white cat's dinner?) Assuming mad-cow and all that is controlled for, why is one inherently better than the other? Hot dogs are tasty and use up waste - why should I try to gross myself out about their contents, but not that of some theoretical gourmet meal?

Eamonn said...

because they are more gross, or at least potentially more so. There could be any part of the beast in them and there probably is. And let's not even mention other stuff that's normally present in abattoirs.

An image mechanically recovered chicken

http://bit.ly/aK186i


I don't think this is what we normally understand by being thrifty and not letting stuff go to waste.

Phoebe said...

Yes, the pink paste - I remember it from Jaime Oliver's show. I still think there are two issues here - the health and ethical standards of abattoirs, on the one hand, and on the other, some essential, fundamental difference between haute snout and a chicken nugget. If the nugget wastes less, and abattoir problems are fixed, where's the problem?

Generally speaking, if you really think about your food, you won't want to eat it. Sometimes I'll consider that the milk in my cereal comes from the udder of a cow, or that the lettuce in my salad has been fondled by many before me at a supermarket or farmer's market, and really, how much does water remove, or that someone on the train sneezed on a bread I wasn't able to fully cover with a bag, and suddenly, not so appetizing. I think the food movement should be focused on health and standards, not on ick-factor.