Savage garden

May 15, 2006 at 2:11 am (Uncategorized)

rotisserie-chicken.jpgI was standing in the deli section at Shaw's, staring dumbly at a display case behind the counter. There, whirling almost gracefully upon roaster spits, the golden brown chicken bodies went up and down, up and down, like headless riders on a strange Ferris wheel. It was a sight I'd seen dozens of times before; hundreds, maybe. Only this day, daydreaming while others shopped for cold cuts and cheese wheels, it occurred to me that we're a completely barbaric society. We slaughter creatures that live among us, chop them up to precise specifications, and then cook them in a display case for all to see. The strangest thing about this practice is that it doesn't seem strange at all.

Now don't get all huffy and try to beat sense into me with a drumstick because I'm not here to rustle up social awareness. I wasn't having an epiphany at Shaw's or any kind of spiritual awakening. When I am visited by thoughts such as these, it is almost always without any sort of political or moral basis. I did not feel disgust as I watched the dismembered chickens spitting grease against the glass as the flesh cooked. Not absolute disgust, anyway. I was merely provoked into strange thoughts by a very prosaic sight and I allowed that new perspective time to develop inside my cranium. The thought process went like this.

Oooooh, lookit them chickens. Damn, those look good. Unless you're a chicken, of course. If you're a chicken, they probably look like dead and mutilated kin. Which is kind of funny, when you think about it, because that's what they are. We're all from same primordial ooze, after all, and I guess that makes us cannibals when you get right down to it. And lavish cannibals at that. I mean, not only did somebody whack those birds on the head and then hack them into pieces, they passed the carcasses along to somebody else who proceeded to publicly roast them for the tantalization of the passerby. I wonder what an extraterrestrialalien2.jpg visitor would make of this. They might radio back on the plasma phone and report that butchery and public feasts of flesh are commonplace on this blue rock close to the sun. And man, imagine if that extraterrestrial had landed at the slaughterhouse instead of the slightly more civilized supermarket? What would old ET have made of that? Furthermore, why the hell am I standing here gawking at the display chickens when the game is starting and I haven't even hit the beer cooler yet? Do they still sell Fig Newtons these days? I haven't had a Fig Newton in decades.

And so I wandered off and held on to those freakish ideas for a while. We kill and devour just about everything on the planet. And the beasts that we hunt, in turn, hunt smaller prey. And so on, and so forth. It's one, big orgy flesh here on McEarth.

Not that I'm going vegan anytime soon. Shoot, no. Ninety five percent of that which I eat is something that had to be killed, torn apart and tossed on a skillet. Have you ever seen me go at the prime rib at Bugaboo Creek? Get too close and you could lose a finger. There IS precedence.

cow.jpgSo, I learned nothing from my strange fugue at the chicken counter, but I gained a little insight. We live in a savage garden where living things tend to eat each other with unfettered gluttony. You can boycott animal products and condemn the cruelty of the slaughter, but the carnage will continue unabated. Most of us wolf down cooked flesh in blissful denial. We know that the thick steak was once a cow that was bashed in the skull with a sledgehammer. We know that clubbing a cow is different from clubbing a baby seal only in that you don't have to bend down as far. But we also know that we need to feed and that eating slow-witted, tasty creatures is the way of our species. I guess you learn to live with that or you hitch a ride with ET as he flees, nauseated, back to his peaceful, leaf eating world.

Make mine rare and don't skimp on the au jus.



  1. Martha said,

    Mark, you sound sort of like my son… You don’t want to get between that boy and his food. I’ve many times told him, he’d eat just about anything that doesn’t eat him first or can’t run fast enough to get away.

    I had a rare treat this weekend. My brother bought, vacuum packed and shipped me about 7 pounds of fiddleheads.. I hadn’t had them in years.. what I haven’t already eaten is now in the freezer. I can’t get them here in PA. They tasted sooooooo good.

    Happy belated mother’s day to all the ladies who are…. 🙂

  2. Mainetarr said,

    OMG! Here I am having my morning tea eating Fig Newtons! HAhahahhaha! Too funny. This almost makes me want to be a vegetarian, until I get to the part about the prime rib at Bugaboo Creek. Then the rest of the story kind of disappears. Have you had the ribs at Ruby Tuesday’s yet? They are fabulous. So much for being a vegetarian……

    Martha, I actually picked some this weekend. I was out in Poland and literally pulled over when I saw them. Yummy stuff…Bobbie, you want some?

  3. Martha said,

    MT, When I saw my brother at family reunion in Florida last month, I gave him some money and asked him to send me some. I love them.. hadn’t had them in years. He said I got a good deal. He was able to send me about 7 pounds for around $4.00 a pound. He said that’s a good price. Hannaford in the Waterville area is selling them for $5.00 a pound. That should go me for a while.
    I think I’ll have to remember this in the future. He has one of those machines that vacuum packs food, so he did that and shipped them to me. He found a box at the post office that could be shipped for a flat fee. He lined it with styrofoam and it came through fine.. Like I said.. they tasted soooooooo good.
    On the meat issue.. I used to work a Hillcrest when it was in operation, and I still eat poultry. I like meat way to well to ever even consider being vegetarian.

  4. jarheaddoc said,

    Fiddleheads, dandelions, and beet greens all get a big YUCK! as far as I’m concerned. My father loved all three. He also thought liver and onions was a delicacy. And a new england boiled dinner was made simply to have the ingredients for what he called red flannel hash. He was a meat lover, though, so he wasn’t all that bad.
    It’s impossible to escape your biology, Mark: the world is dog eat dog.

  5. K2 said,

    I love animals . . . they taste great.

    I’m with you, Mark. I simply try not to think about it too much. I guess I’m so far in denial, I’m in the Suez Canal.

    But you should’ve seen the Porterhouse steaks I cooked last night. Half the steak was filet mignon.

    As for au jus: gesundheit.

  6. K2 said,

    jarhead, pandas are a good example of vegetarians with canine teeth. At some point in their evolution, they switched from flesh to just bamboo. I know, I know — awe shoot.

  7. Martha said,

    JH.. when I lived in Maine I had a neighbor and friend who used to say.. “if we all liked the same stuff there wouldn’t be enough to go around.” I think she was correct… so, any fiddleheads you don’t want, you can send to me.. I’ll be happy to have them…Beet greens, I’d have to be in the mood for.. Liver, more precisely pork liver, I can eat if its cooked right.. I think beef liver tastes like a cow barn smells. Onions are just plain nasty, as is the cabbage and turnip that go into boiled dinner. However, I introduced my church to New England boiled dinner and it was well received. I do like red flannel hash thought… Hash was what my mom would often make when she cleaned out the fridge.. that, or we’d have what she called a tasting party.. a taste of this and a taste of that.. when you’re feeding a family of 10 on a preacher’s salary you don’t waste anything.

  8. Gil said,

    I grew up down south with a real southern-cookin Grandma. We had 3 different kinds of meat at supper and breakfst (all fried or griled of course – the oven is for pies only) and mostly black-eyed peas and butter beans (real butter beans, not the lima beans they sell as butter beans up here). I never understood the greens (mustard, turnip, collard, etc), but everyone else in my family eats them. If it weren’t for meat we would have probably starved. “Every bit of the pig except for the squeal and the tail” that’s what Grandma said. Sausage & bacon, ham, pork brains in your scrambled eggs, boiled pigs feet (not pickled, that’s just gross), ham hocks, cracklin’ bread (that’s corn bread with pork rind for you northerners), and of course chitterlins (pronounced chitlins – hog intestines, cleaned and boiled and cooked into bread) – yum yum.

  9. Martha said,

    Gil, the farmer I rented from before I bought my house, has hog butchering the day after Thanksgiving every year. While living there I learned to eat scrapple. I learned to clean a pig stomach and have been told how to stuff it and bake it. I haven’t tried it yet, but someday I will. I actually kind of like scrapple if I fix it right and in small doses.
    When I was growing up. occasionally my family would be given a few chickens. I can well remember my dad chopping the heads off and seeing them run around without it. Like I said.. we didn’t waste anything. The property I grew up on, had a small apple orchard, and just about any kind of berry grew wild on it. We always grew a big garden too. My mom picked, canned and made jams and jellies of all kinds. She worked just about all the rest of the year to keep her family fed through the winter. And most of us learned to not be fussy about what we ate too. If we were, we would have gone hungry because my mom didn’t put much stock in being finicky.

  10. Gil said,

    That’s the way we lived also. My grandma made her own jellies and jams, and pickles. She made a hot sauce that would bring you to your knees. I spent many summers on my cousins farm, getting up in the morning to slop the chickens and mow the grits, or something like that. We had fresh eggs and milk every morning. The milk hadn’t been seperated yet (in case you city folk don’t know, it comes out of the cow that way), and the milk still had all the cream in it, mmmmmmmm. Everything was fried in butter and not one of our family has ever had a problem with cholestorol or heart conditons. I think if you grow up eating that way your body adjusts. That’s why vegans look like they are about to keel over any moment.

  11. Linda said,

    I don’t like boiled things.

  12. K2 said,

    A fine cannibal you’d make, Linda. We boil people ’round here, see?

  13. Linda said,

    OK now I’ve had two cups of coffee, I may be able to make more sense.

    When I read today’s title, I got a little queasy. For a horrible moment I thought we were back to music, which would be fine, but Savage Garden’s NOT my cup of tea. There’s always that nightmarish fear that I’m listening to the Backstreet Boys, and not much relief when I realize I’m not.

    Anyhow you’ve already heard my slaughterhouse story, won’t inflict it again — nothing short of that would stop me eating meat. Feels natural to me.

    When my granddaughter was two, I asked her what she wanted for lunch one day, and she said, succinctly — “Meat.” See what I mean?

  14. Linda said,

    K2, the stewpot’s not for me. what’s wrong with stir-fry?

  15. jarheaddoc said,

    Gil, I can feel my own arteries hardening just reading what you wrote. The thing was, if you were on a farm, you worked all that stuff off. Ever see a fat farmer?I was exposed to chitterlings, okra, and rabbit while I was in the military. I had never tried any of them up to that point, but found all of them acceptable.
    There are two things that I really have a hard time passing on: a chuck pot roast that is slow roasted and falls apart at the thought of being touched by a fork, and homemade yeast bread. And of course you have to just slather the butter to that bread the instant it come out of the oven.
    And I would have to add goat cheese to the list of YUCK! stuff. As Martha alluded to, any food that smells like the animal it came from is not something I’d be willing to eat.

  16. jarheaddoc said,

    The Rhodesian Selous Scouts used this technique to teach people how to survive in the field: they would kill a baboom and hang it in a tree for a week, letting it get good and ripe, while starving the students for that same week. The students would then be shown that they could eat that rotten meat if they boiled it long enough. Any student who didn’t eat failed the course. Pretty harsh on the surface, but when you take it in the context of the missions those guys performed, pretty tame. I guess it’s one of those things that you can do if you swallow it whole and don’t think too much about it.

  17. Linda said,

    I just noticed that someone named Lori is missing Street Talk, in today’s Our View comments. Should we go rescue her?

  18. LaFlamme said,

    By all means, go rescue her, Linda. And tell her to bring pork chops.

  19. LaFlamme said,

    Remember that classic cartoon where the two guys stranded on the island start picturing each other as a tasty hot dogs or succulent turkey? I don’ t have a point, just… wasn’t that funny?

  20. K2 said,

    It was an early Warner Brothers cartoon, I think. Classic.

  21. AO said,

    Gil, I’d love to try your mother’s homemade hot sauce. You don’t make it, do you? My opinion is, the hotter the better!

  22. AO said,

    I still can’t believe that Lori hasn’t found us yet. She must be dipping heavly into the Allen’s.

  23. jarheaddoc said,

    K2, there’s a Bugs bunny cartoon where bugs gives elmer Fudd a massage and there’s classical music playing in the background. What is the name of that tune?

  24. Linda said,

    Isn’t it the Anvil Chorus? 🙂

  25. AO said,

    Linda, Thanks to you, I have that awful Savage Garden song stuck in my head! I’m ready to tear my hair out!

    I got a Sirius radio for Mother’s Day. Anybody out there have one?

  26. Linda said,

    Really sorry, AO. Just paying it forward. I read those two words this morning without enough coffee on board, and BAM! my head was full of unwanted wailing. I blame Mark, as usual.

  27. AO said,

    Sure, I’ll blame him also. He’s so easy. Oops, that reminds me of that old Kieth Carradine song, “I’m Easy”. Gawd, I need to plug in some blues.

  28. Gil said,

    P-funk works best to get bad music out of your head.
    It was my grandma’s hot sauce AO, and unfortunately she took the recipe with her. My mom takes half an hour to make minute rice. Which is weird becuse her sister is part owner of a BBQ joint that makes some awesome food.

  29. LaFlamme said,

    Linda, for some reason, your curt remark: “I don’t like boiled things” has been giving me the chills all afternoon. So cryptic. Taken out of context, that line could mean many, many things.

  30. Gil said,

    That’ll larn ’em. I just flamed the SJ Our View for writing a piece on maltreatment of bloggers. I don’t think I’ll ever actually grow up…

  31. AO said,

    I know. I just read that piece. Them of all people printing something like that. Losers. And, sorry to hear about the hot sauce recipe. It really sounded yummy! And, Gil, I’ve got tears in my eyes after reading the comment on how it takes your mother a half an hour to make Minute Rice! Thanks, I really needed that.

  32. K2 said,

    jarhead, off the top of my head, I think it’s Mozart’s ‘Figaro.’

  33. Linda said,

    Cool, I’ll go check ’em out right now.

    Mark, at the time I meant all those things. Talking about Misery last night may have put me in a mood. Or maybe it was Savage Garden. Did I sound like the witch in Hansel and Gretel?

    Dial up night for me, I’ll check in when i can. Have fun, dearies, heh heh heh. And just stick your fingers through the bars of the cage for one minute, if you will…

  34. AO said,

    Dial up. I don’t miss that. But, hey, at least your mother HAS a computer, Linda. I’ve been trying to talk my mother into getting one for years. I think she really wants one but, is afraid.

  35. K2 said,

    Meat pops, all around.

  36. AO said,

    Mmmm…Meat pops….my favorite flavor is

  37. K2 said,


  38. LaFlamme said,

    Ha! Gross.

  39. K2 said,

    Hey, that was set up like a T-ball, bro.

    So, how do we feel about clams and/or tacos?

  40. AO said,

    Purple? Like…Barney? Yuck, K2.

  41. Linda said,

    I’m surprised you all can still talk about food after jd’s wonderful rotting baboon story.

    Do you know Douglas Adams — Hitchhiker’s Guide, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul etc — he wrote a terrific book called Last Chance To See. There’s a scene where they’re trying to find a komodo dragon, and if I remember properly, they hang a goat to lure it. Charming. But it’s such a fun book, if you find it, read it!

  42. LaFlamme said,

    Alright, where are the beer experts. I need to find a rack of “Delirium Tremens” beer, which is sort of rare. Anyone know who has the best variety of brew around here? Roopers?

  43. K2 said,

    Yeah, AO, like Barney . . . that’s it. (Ask your husband about a purple meat pop. He’ll know the brand.)

    Mark, you’re not in Belgium anymore. I bet you a six-pack of your choice that you can’t find the legendary DT in L-A. Roopers doesn’t have it, neither does Florians. However, you locals may know of a secret beer garden I’m unfamiliar with, but I rather arrogantly doubt it.

    That beer store across from the Casco Bay Lines terminal in Portland may have it, although I was just there a month ago and didn’t see it. I landed some obscure Schwarzbier instead. Couldn’t read the label though, damn Krauts.

    How I miss Beers of the World in Rochester, NY. Ol’ Faust, he’d have it, for sure.

  44. jarheaddoc said,

    I am no con-o-sewer of beer: too many years of Bud have ruined my palate, I guess. There are two places where I got the best beer: Great Lakes, IL, because I was 19, 3.2% beer was legal on base at that age, and I could drink a case and still have money left in my pocket, and these huge Heinekins we got at a place in Italy. The bottles were about a half gallon in size, the alcohol percentage was enough to preserve you, and the exchange rate favored us. Chug two of those things and you’d end up on a respirator when your buddies got you back to the ship.
    Linda, I just had to pass along that story, as I found something that makes American field rations look positively gourmet, but isn’t quite as bad as haggus (sp?)

  45. LaFlamme said,

    You’re probably right, K2. I’ll probably have to go to Portland for even a remote chance of finding it. I’ll do that on Saturday. I’ll check out the spot across from the CBL terminal, for starters. Dang, man. I should have thought about this months ago. The brew is meant to be a gift for someone at a barbecue this weekend.

  46. K2 said,

    Dude, I just did a quick search to see if you could land some online, but no dice, you’re fucked.

    Just get ’em a sixer of Meisterchow. He’ll never know.

  47. jarheaddoc said,

    What does the label on that stuff look like, Mark? All I get is this vision of some guy in a hospital bed, drawn like a character out of Mad magazine, with greaat big creepy crawly insects and spiders around him

  48. LaFlamme said,

    That’s how I’D design the label. But no. Just a big pink elephant.

  49. K2 said,

    Like in that bad MASH episode, where Hotlip’s alky friend goes bananas during withdrawl — “The maggots, the maggots!”

  50. LaFlamme said,

    The guy I’m meeting with is an editor who helps me with all my personal writing crap. It’s become a tradition to bring something to the barbecue in keeping with the theme of the latest novel. One year it was a glass brain with those buzzy electrical currents inside (Worumbo), last year, it was a bag full of pink stuff, including Pepto Bismal (The Pink Room), and this year, of course, is the year of Delirum Tremens. Maybe I should just bring him some librium and a B12.

  51. jarheaddoc said,

    Those pink elephants are just too much, Mark. I am going to have a seizure if I move the mouse too much more

  52. LaFlamme said,

    Now that you mention it, the pink elepant appeared in the classic cartoons, as well.

  53. AO said,

    Strange beer? Let me see if I can get it. Ya never know.

  54. LaFlamme said,

    Hey, that’s right, AO. I forgot about your connections with the booze underground.

  55. AO said,

    I was just talking to Roch about it. We’ve go all kinds of people we can ask. How soon do you need it?

  56. LaFlamme said,

    Ah, that’s the problem. The barbecue is Sunday. Why didn’t I think of this weeks ago? Because I’m toopid.

  57. Linda said,

    Ah jd, it’s many t’owd haggis I’ve seen piped in. And since it’d be midnight, after many a dram and all the open mouthed kissing that goes with Auld Lang Syne, I may have partaken of a wee morsel or four or five, just to, ah, clear the palate. If you see what i mean.

    Boiled in the belly of a sheep. Do you think that might be why i don’t like boiled things any more?

  58. K2 said,

    Mark, I just called the aforementioned Downeast Beverage Co. on Commercial St., but they’re closed. Here’s the number to possibly save you a trip: 828-2337

    For a giggle, I called my Rochester beer Mecca, but they were closed too.

    Cripes, if he’s your editor, just give him a pint or two of your blood so he can edit your manuscript with it.

    Or, as Twain wrote:

    ‘Well, my book is written — let it go. But if it were only to write over again there wouldn’t be so many things left out. They burn in me; and they keep multiplying abd multiplying; but now they can’t ever be said. And besides, they would take a library — and a pen warmed-up in hell.’

  59. Mainetarr said,

    Jarhead, I thought that Bugs Bunny episode was “The Barbar of Seville” skit. And Figaro was part of it, too.

  60. LaFlamme said,

    Cool. Thanks. I tried RSVP in Portland and they definitely don’t have it.

  61. K2 said,

    write, written, it’s all good.

  62. jarheaddoc said,

    Thanks for the infor, guys. I did a web search for looney tunes music earlier and came up with some guy’s name and a bunch of music. I gess I r toopid, too, for not thinking of a title with ‘barber’ in it!

  63. Anonymous said,

    Hey Mark, try Tully’s in Wells.
    Rt 1
    I’m not sure how lucky you will be with the weather. I haven’t bben in a while, but I’ve found some good brews there in the past. Little store, big selection.

  64. Gil said,

    That anon post was from me Mark. I don’t understand why this blog ditches my name sometimes

  65. Bobbie said,

    Thanks for the offer of fiddleheads, MT, but I’ll pass. I very rarely do greens of any kind. I did eat some fresh spinach once, but it was lightly sauted. I remember going out for fiddleheads with the cousins when I was younger and we came back with a bagful of ferns. My grandmother had a good laugh over that one. I also remember gathering dandelions with my grandmother. Dug way too deep and managed to break the knife.

    Don’t even get me started on liver and onions. Every Wednesday night, we had that and there were no excuses for missing supper that night. Shoe leather would have tasted better than what my father tried to pass off as liver once he was done with it.

    Tripe is another thing that I refuse to eat. Too many memories of my father playing cribbage with my great uncle while they ate that and drank Nasty Gansett. The only good thing about that was that we got the empties for the deposit and could buy anything we wanted (translation: candy and lots of it) as long as we left them to their cribbage game.

  66. Gil said,

    Bobbie that reminds me of the same kind of thing back home. Except it was chicken livers & gizzards (fried, of course), and instead of ‘Gansett it was rotgut moonshine, and instead of cribbage it was cockfights. Calm down K2, I meant chickens

  67. Gil said,

    In case you couldn’t tell, the preceding post was a complete lie, told only to amuse myself. Like I said, I’ll probabllly never grow up.

  68. LaFlamme said,

    Hey, thanks Gil, Anonymous, whoever you are. I’ll give them a try. I’ll call them tomorrow afternoon.
    Your name will likely get ditched whenever you clear your cache. Does the same thing to me.

  69. Gil said,

    Let me know if they have it, I’ve never tried that and it sounds like I’m missing out.

  70. LaFlamme said,

    I remember it as being expensive and sort of thick. Beyond that, I don’t remember much of that Virginia night.

  71. Gil said,

    Virginia night?
    Are we talking about beer or fat hookers?
    ‘Cause I’m not sure that Tully’s carries both

  72. Anonymous said,

    They say that they ship to Maine and that they have 11 left. It’s $8.49 plus CRV

  73. Anonymous said,

    And no, that wasn’t Linda.

  74. LaFlamme said,

    Wow, sweet. I may get my hands on some sweet, debilatating DT’s, yet.

  75. Martha said,

    JH… fresh home made bread you say? When I come up next summer and we have a picnic, if someone will loan me their kitchen, I’ll make some. I make good bread… among other things. Oh, and if I can still get it, I’ll bring some real home made butter. We currently buy it from some amish ladies who have a little store, but the sister who made their butter recently passed away, so I don’t know if we’ll still be able to get it or not.

  76. Robert said,


    Call Nappi distributors in Portland, they always seem to have the connections to the unusual/rare brews, but thats just a guess, not that I’d know what they carry. If they carry it, just find a local store willing to place the order and you can pick it up wholesale.

  77. Banana said,

    Hello, Mark, I am just a visitor

    I agree that flesh eating is merely a cultural thing because many of us are brought up that way, there are other cultures that are vegetarian – some indian culture, for example.

    I am a vegetarian for a year now, I recommended it ; perhaps you can try it periodically.


  78. LaFlamme said,

    Hey, I appreciate the perspective. I have a fresh appreciation for vegetarians lately. Good hearing from you.

  79. Linda said,

    Yes but appreciation in what sense?

  80. LaFlamme said,

    What? Are you implying that I eat them?

  81. Linda said,

    Wel-l-l .. that’s definitely what came to mind when I read your comment but that might just be me?

    Now I know I’ve been extra bossy and demanding lately and you know I’m really feeling bad about it. But I’ve got a busy night going on here, so if you could pleasepleaseplease tell me whether you’re going to put in a new post tonight, and if so what time — I could plan the rest of my time accordingly 🙂

  82. Linda said,

    I’m teasing. Just go with the flow.

  83. hedonisticpleasureseeker said,

    Funny, I went through this same thought process when I bought my fur coat (on clearance, 70% off, how could I resist?). We do indeed live in a savage garden . . . .

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