Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Too Much Meat

Heh. Speaking of too much meat. First, I'd like to shake a stick at my blogmate Dr. Biggles, because although he's more fun than you can shake a stick at, I guess I just like shakin' sticks.
Biggles' blog, Meathenge, was mentioned yesterday on Boing Boing, prominently featured in a roundup of meaty fun sites to gawk at. (Boing Boing is fun, too, if you don't already know.) Biggles says he's had a slew of visitors since the latest hot spotlight of fame flashed his way. Of course, it's just poetic justice that his most recent two posts were not about meat.
As for me: This post is about meat. And Whole Foods.
Although I seem to have a propensity for stepping feet-first into politically charged subjects — just call me the red cape in front of the bull — it is not my intention today to raise the topic of Should We Even Be Shopping at Whole Foods.
I shop at Whole Foods. Occasionally. Wisely, I like to believe. I'm following the debates about locally provenanced items, corporate bullheaditude, "wimping" out on the lobster tanks, yadda yadda. I remain unpersuaded that Whole Foods is the devil. I will, with a clear conscience, buy a jar of spice or a sack of stone-ground grits or a bag of dried seaweed there.
But I keep running into one big problem with the meat. Too Much.
Now, Biggles will tell you there is no such thing as Too Much Meat, but what if all you want is a hot dog?
You don't want an entire plastic-wrapped pack of fake-smoke-juice-enhanced Little League Sawdust Chubbies from Safeway, so you go to the meat counter at Whole Foods and ask for a couple of individual frankfurters.
And you get Log Dogs. Big thangs. Spicy, tasty, yeah. But utterly beyond the scope of a reasonable bun.
I've found that it's not just wieners that are too big at Whole Foods. If you ask the nice butcher for a couple of chicken breasts, first of all he'll try to sell you two double breasts — a pair of pairs. And even when you pare down your order to just the two poitrines, you are given a couple of D-cups, I swear. Way too much meat.
This is meat sold by the pound, by the way, so Whole Foods tends to benefit from fobbing off gargantuan gobs to the unsuspecting.
Anybody else have this problem with meat at Whole Foods? I've inadvertently come home with massive slabs of fish, too, but as I am not the usual meat-buyer in this household, I may have had a few oddball experiences.
But man. Those dogs were just too big.


kudzu said...

Ole, Matador Cookie! I have heard complaints from lotsa people about the D cup chicken breast issue. Who bred them that way in the first place? Portions are out of control in most retail sources but it seems ironic for Whole Foods to participate, adding to the unhealthy practice of overfeeding an overweight population. Fie.

A friend wanted to know whether food writers (and that would include bloggers) might take on the mission of demanding smaller portions in markets as well as in restaurants. How about it, youse guys??

drbiggles said...

I can't speak for the corporate chicken, but the size my local groceries get usually is an reflection of supply & demand.

When the chicken prices go up a bit, people don't buy as much or as often. Butchers can't move product and don't buy as much. Chicken lots let the chickens sit about longer before wringing their necks. Hence larger chickens.

I suppose buying enough meat for 1 or 2 people who attempt a healthy diet can get out of hand very quickly. I'm feeding 4 per night, but even so still end up buying too much. I get so giddy when I'm at the meat counter. I went in for a whole chicken the other day and came out with that and gorgeous 3 pound pork shoulder portion. It looked too good to pass up.

Usually what I'll do is pass on the leftovers (they're excellent by the way) to a needy neighbor or some neighbor that will appreciate it. This way I can cook what I want to, not get too fat and pass on the good tidings to others.


Monkey Gland said...

Too Much Meat....Too Much Meat...nope sorry don't get it...

Sam said...

you need to relocate to engerland - home of the "chipolata" (=thin small sausage)

failing that, do as I do, I just buy one breast, not usually chicken since we don't eat that often, but for example I buy one pork chop then before serving it slice thinly across the grain into diddy slices and then we have a plentiful, delicious meal for two at half the cost and no wastage.

I made dinner for four the other day - chicken in pepitas. I bought six small boneless thighs thinking it wouldn't be enough, but infact, cut into bite-sized chunks and with the sauce and the rice it was more than enough to feed us all. Cutting into small pieces definitely seems to make the meat go further.

A little is all we need.

Dagny said...

I don't shop at Whole Foods. I am with Sam though on the portion. Because breasts tend to be too large, I often buy thighs instead. Much more manageable.

That dog looks incredible. When I want a dog, I just run out to Top Dog though. One day I will break down and buy the to go package of dogs from them.

And now I must run off to have some meat. Specifically a burger from Triple Rock. Pictures to follow.

drbiggles said...

Hey, maybe if you wrap the chicken breast in bacon you'll finish the whole thing? It works for me.


Oh man, chicken & rice! That sounds so perfectly wonderful. Neither of the boys enjoy the rice, so we eat very little. Sigh. Sure I can cook some for myself, but it lowers my personal time. I'm not willing to do that at the moment. Oh, and Fatted Calf has bacon with the rind on.


michelle said...

D cup chicken breast?! ha ha ha - you always have such a "unique" way of putting things! I've done a fair amount of shopping at whole foods myself, although I can't say I've ever bought meat there...I wasn't allowed to buy meat at Whole Paycheck. I do like Sam - we now split a chicken breast between the two of us (saves money and waistlines!)

mrs d said...

Biggles got BoingBoinged!

::weeps with jealousy::

I can't do Whole Foods. Nothing to do with the food or the portions - it's just too damned expensive! Just about everything I'd want there I can get at a neighborhood Asian market for half the price.

As for too much meat? Hah. When we get back to PDX, we're buying a chest freezer and going halvsies on an entire pig with Dave's parents. Slice a wee bit of it off for each meal and we'll never have to worry about portion packages at the store.

cookiecrumb said...

Ole, Kudzu! I appreciate the reinforcement. I wasn't sure if it was just me. And now that I'm, um, reinforced, hellyeah I'll ask for smaller portions.
One problem comes with buying meat at farmers markets, where the vendors only have six or seven bags of something already sealed up, take it or leave it. I've got a cross-section of a lamb leg about the size of Volume One of the Compact OED in my freezer. (Lamb cookout at Cookie's!)

Biggles: Well, I never thought about the birds just sitting in the lots, eating and getting bigger! I wonder if WF seeks them out on purpose.

Sam: I'm all for small portions, intelligently distributed. It just seems that I get suckered into buying huge chunks at WF. (And now you've made Biggles cry.)

Dagney: I like thighs better anyway. And I do have other places where I can buy single upscale dogs.

Michelle: I gotta stop being intimidated by the meat counter ordeal... Damn agoraphobia.

Monkey Gland: Come and help me clean out this freezer.

cookiecrumb said...

Hey, look who sneaked in: Mrs. D!
I've heard the $$ arguments about WF, but you're usually paying for local, humanely raised, etc., protein there, so I believe in trying to pop for that -- if I can -- on the occasions I do eat meat.
Cranky and I are researching chest freezers too! Advice: Slice the pig BEFORE you freeze it, and welcome back, Mrs. D.

mrs d said...

Yup. Slice then freeze. Got it. :-P

I understand on the WF quality, but we can get that same quality for less $$ in PDX at New Seasons. The "if we can" factor is big though. It's hard to shop at Whole Paycheck during those times when there is no paycheck, if you know what I mean.

Cyndi said...

(With a loud, whiny voice): I wanna Whole Foods! The closest one is a two hours' drive. But I buy most of my meat at Costco and the commissary (one advantage of marrying a military man) so the price is right. I don't worry about too much meat, since DH loves leftovers, and I cook a lot of recipes that are meant for 4.

kudzu said...

Wait! You're going to freeze your CHEST? (sorry)

In truth, I am much more fond of thighs than chicken breasts, anyway, but I am trying to help my friends who seem to need them to exist. I do remember when they were more delicate and more flavorful than the Sophia Lorens we're getting today.

Biggles puts me to shame. (I only wish I were one of his needy neighbors.) His solution is not one that works for many of us, alas.

Every time I look at the photo on today's post I giggle.

cookiecrumb said...

Mrs. D: Oh. New Seasons. Lucky you. But as you have learned from not always being able to shop where you want, you do what you can. Me, I have to learn not to get too much meat, y'ome sayin'? :D

Cyndi: Bingo. I was saying to Cranky today that I bet a lot of bloggers would just kill for a Whole Foods, and here we are in the Bay Area ripping them up for this and that.

Kudzu: I suppressed many a double entendre today.

Sam said...

biggles - you need a rice cooker - then you only need to invest a minute or two of your time. it does it all for you - you even get a rice crust if you like that kind of thing.

We had fatted calf bacon for supper. 5 slices cut into little pieces and fried til crispyish. Then a couple of frissee heads and a very vinegary vainaigrette made with imported moutarde.

"Frissee Lardons" is the way to a Frenchman's heart I tell you. It's so good, you don't even miss the carbs.

Kevin said...

I\Maybe I've just been living alone too long, but I just figure one breast is two meals. But then, I have no problems with eating leftovers.

It's good for Biggles to get in touch with his sensitive side, uh, quarter. Eighth maybe?

drbiggles said...


Heh, we have a real Hello Kitty rice cooker. I would like to have a nice chicken & rice meal, soon. I'm getting there.


Greg said...

Not a big fan of Whole Foods. Very beautiful but costs too much. Now that the kids aren't around I find that it is harder to shop for two people. Like you said big portions. I try to use it up for lunch the next day but sometimes it goes to waste. I hate to waste food.

cookiecrumb said...

Greg, dolling, I'm trying really hard to stay out of the debate of "costs too much." Briefly, I've come to understand WF doesn't really cost more -- item for item, quality for quality -- than other stores. But I don't want to start that debate here.
My beef... ha ha ha! ... is, like yours, that they sell portions that are huge. Too huge.