A couple of years ago, I wrote a column to help me cope with my son’s shocking conversion to vegetarianism. I come from a family barely evolved from Cro-Magnon man — you know, those guys who flew on pterodactyls and had their cars tipped over by giant racks of brontosaurus ribs. We have always been meatatarians.
As I said at the time, though, everyone should be a vegetarian. It’s way better for the environment, and scientists are pretty insistent that it’s better for your health, too. Unfortunately, as I also said at the time, it was too late for me. I was already one brontosaurus rib over the line — yep, sittin’ downtown in a railway station, one rib over the line.
Then I found out the main artery into my heart was so clogged that even a Drano burger couldn’t clear it out. The doctor sent some pipe cleaner up my arm, cleared that sucker out, put in a stent and suggested that I’d have to do it all over again very soon if I didn’t give up my Cro-Magnon diet, especially red meat — you know, burgers, steaks and mammoths.
I haven’t gone full-on vegetarian, mind you, but I’ve done well. I have a lot of no-meat dinners, supplemented by an occasional lean piece of turkey or chicken. In 2018, however, I haven’t touched red meat. I mean, sure, I lovingly caress the steaks in the meat section of the supermarket as I walk by and whisper, “I miss you,” but I don’t eat them anymore.
Until this past Saturday, that is. I figure if I have just a tiny piece of steak once a quarter or so, it’ll keep me in the carnivorous game until a scientist finally does something important like invent a fat-free, cholesterol-free cow. So, to keep my meat-eating system ready and my grilling skills honed, I talked my wife into letting me have a small ribeye steak on Saturday night. It felt a little sacrilegious putting such a small steak in my basket at the grocery store, and I had to sneak out of there before any man saw me purchasing such a tiny piece of meat.
“Ha! Check out that tiny sliver of meat Chris is buying! Dude, turn in your man card! You got Smurfs coming over for dinner or something?”
I pre-seasoned this little piece of ribeye hours in advance, and spent hours on the patio hopping around in a circle doing my I’m-gonna-eat-steak-tonight dance. This was going to be perhaps the greatest day of 2018 so far. When I finally plopped that meat down on grill and heard that long-lost sizzle, a lone tear of joy streamed down my cheek. I cooked it to a nice medium and made sure everything in the house was ready so that I could begin eating immediately upon sitting down at the table.
It was awful. I know I grilled it just like I did the previous 14,352 steaks that preceded it. It tasted so … red. I don’t know whether my taste buds have changed with all this veggie eating, but it tasted like it had gone straight from the package to my mouth.
Perhaps I’d built up this moment way too high in my mind. Maybe those Chick-Fil-A cows had finally gotten to me with their spelling-challenged marketing scheme. Whatever the case, I just didn’t enjoy steak anymore. I wasted a meat moment. Oh no! What if my annual trip to get two double-chili-cheeseburgers goes the same way? And if scientists invent that fat-free cow, will I even care?
Oh well. Now that my diet has changed, I suspect the Earth’s cow population might double or triple. I don’t even remember what fried chicken tastes like, and I might not even go to the Possum Holler Baptist Church’s Coon Cookoff this year.
However, I can’t stop grilling. It’s in my blood almost as much as cholesterol. Grilled flounder and corn-on-the-cob ain’t ribeyes, nor are they worth posting photos on Facebook. But they’re better than nothing.