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Melting

February 9, 2018

If I’m not mistaken, today is the day that the world gets together to show the power of cooperation as citizens of the world. And as fate would have it, it’s also the day our federal government shuts down (at least for one hot moment) because two political parties couldn’t agree on the budget.

But I’ve been in a self imposed online news vacuum. I’m staying off Twitter as much as possible. I’ll stay up on what’s happening by reading The Economist. That’s as real as news gets. I’d recommend you pay them the exorbitant fee they want for weekly delivery. Even if you don’t read it every week, you’re paying to support real journalism. And that’s not cheap, but it’s important.

Shall we talk about the weather?

I’m looking ahead to next week, and do you know what I’m seeing? Days above freezing and nights below freezing. For those who live in the maple belt, that’s sap running weather. I don’t have any trees to tap, and I know just enough about this subject to be dangerous. But even if the sugar shacks are still shuttered for the season, this is just another sign of the spring to come.

Maybe there will be more snow on Tuesday, however it will soon melt away. Hey, speaking of melting, this seems like the perfect time to finish my rant from yesterday. Because politics aside, I’m deeply concerned about a civilization that prizes things that melt in your mouth.

Look, I’m all for the sensual joys of letting something delicious slowly dissolve in my mouth.

Chocolate is a great example. There are plenty of ways to enjoy this treat. You can chew it to experience the snap of a finely tempered bar. You can grate it on top of something and release more of its aroma into the air with the increased surface area. Or you can just pop it in your mouth and let it melt away, coating your tongue with its warm, voluptuous liqueur, as layer after layer of flavor and pleasure reveal themselves, before all that’s left is a lingering memory.

Similar things can be said for foods with high fat content. Some soft cheeses can melt in your mouth, although most won’t because people will eat them with crusty bread. I’m typically not one of those people. Give me a soft and super-ripe piece of sticky raw milk cheese, and I’ll pick it up in my fingers, and take delicate bites so that I can fully experience the pull of the paste. You can bet I’ll be licking my fingers when I’m done. If you look carefully, you may even catch me sniffing my fingers after the fact, capturing every last bit of goodness from the morsel.

Foie gras? Maybe.
Bone marrow? Okay.
Cultured butter? Most definitely.

Chicken? No way.

I’m not making that up. Just recently, someone was raving about a chicken dish they had enjoyed. And the prooftext of why it was so good was that it would melt in your mouth. Just the very idea makes me shudder.

Here’s the thing. I don’t care how long you simmer something in a sous vide bath, or how many hours you keep it in a smoker, or the days spent marinating, because meat doesn’t melt in your mouth.

It doesn’t.

Meat can be tender. It can be silky. Ribs can fall of the bone, you know, if they’re overcooked. Muscle fibers can yield to the touch of a fork. You might be able to cut a steak with a fish knife. Collagen can break down. Fat can render to become luscious and buttery.

But dammit, meat will not melt in your mouth. So please, stop overselling it. Because when you stop to think about it, that would be hideous. Seriously, who would ever want a piece of chicken to melt in their mouth?

It’s meat. That’s why God gave us these magnificent canine incisors. So that we can eat it. And it’s why we have musculature in our jaw, so we can chew it.

This entire notion that soft food is fancy food is so outdated it makes me crazy. When medicine was lousy, and kings and queens had bad teeth, soft food was important. It was also expensive. The peasants had to eat harder, coarser stuff.

Filet mignon is a terrible steak. Beyond its tenderness, it has little to offer in the flavor department. But it’s fancy. There isn’t that much tenderloin in a cow, so there’s an element of scarcity to the cut. However, it’s also about a trumped up demand for what’s considered a super premium piece of meat. And why? Because a long time ago, rich people still had lousy dental care.

You’ve got teeth. Use them. Taste your food. Chew your meat. Be happy.

Let’s save the in-mouth melting for tender salted butter caramels, thin slices of lardo, and marshmallows softened in steaming mugs of hot chocolate. Speaking of which, now’s the time to enjoy the last of your favorite winter treats. I’m not actually sure where to go for killer marshmallows these days. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.

Amazingly, I somehow haven’t made a single mug of hot cocoa this winter either. What can I tell you. It’s been busy. Hope to see you at the Great Nor’easter tomorrow. If not, have a great weekend.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2018 5:51 pm

    Chicharrones are meat, and they melt in your mouth.

  2. February 9, 2018 7:36 pm

    My guess is that you are getting an inferior version with hide and fat still attached. Chicharrones should be pure pork pillows, light enough to dream on.

    Unfortunately, I have run through my stash of 4505 from San Francisco. Will save you some next time I make a batch from scratch.

    • February 9, 2018 11:13 pm

      Are we going to have a chicharrones throw down? The ones I love come from the grocery store in deep Oakland, where we bought the parking lot tamales out of the back of some dude’s car. ADS takes me there whenever I visit, and I’m feeling optimistic about my cardiovascular health.

      • February 11, 2018 11:29 am

        Game on. I will pick up some 4505 when I’m back there again (early April), you get your Oakland version, we’ll grab a bag of the generic stuff from Dollar General, and I’ll make my own batch. Then a taste off. Maybe run this as a side event as one of your Fussy tours this summer?

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