Country people are not like city people. We don’t want to be. We grow up working on the farm; raking hay, running, loading and moving cattle, irrigating, harvesting. “Driving” a pickup with Da in the back, tossing hay out. Except we are four and can;t reach the pedals, so we are actually just steering the pick. 0400 is a real wake up time for us.
I’ve lived in the city and adapted just fine. City people have a harder time adapting to the country because it is just so damn weird.
I’m at the beginning and he is talking about where food comes from. I grew up on a farm. I know where food comes from. And there are general rules about food that come into play when you grow up, surrounded by animals you are going to eat.
#1-Don’t name something you are going to eat.
You can name the steer you have corralled up “This One” and fatten him for six weeks, twice a day. Pat his head, rub his neck, shove him out the way when you check his water. Put extra molasses in his steer mix “That’ll make him happy!” and not give it a thought when the butcher shows up.
Chickens don’t have names. Goats, sheep, pigs? No names. In my world, their only existence was to be food. If we couldn’t eat them, we wouldn’t have them. (We did have peacocks and mallard ducks. They had names as did our dogs.)
So in A Cooks Tour, Bourdain says, “I’m sure that had I just seen a thoroughbred being inseminated, a cow being milked, a steer being castrated or a calf breeched, I would have been equally ill at ease.” I was sort of taken aback. We didn’t have horses but we had cows and bulls. We ran cattle every weekend and castrating was just part of the deal, as was branding and de-horning. I’ve spent hours huddled up under a tarp, shoulder deep inside a cow. I had small hands and my Da couldn’t make my mother “go through that”. When I was having my first child (I have loooong labors that aren’t remarkable), she must have called every ten minutes, telling my husband “Don’t you let them make her suffer!”
So I’m reading Bourdain’s account of a pig slaughter and I can really see what a queasy life we live on the farm. Bourdain really paid attention to the whole slaughter process. It works exactly like that and is sort of icky, in the way that all of that mammal-eating-whatever-they-want is icky. I watched that movie “Grizzly Man” and was horrified when the bears, his buddies, ate him. But a lot of that back-to-nature stuff is icky.
Especially all that fishing stuff with the worms and hooks and stuff. That stuff makes me cringe.