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Posts Tagged ‘meat’

It was heartening to spy through the mist from our friends Susan and Jean-Michel’s bathroom window in Strasbourg (AlsaceLorraine in NE France) a sea of allotments stretching a hundred yards to the elevated road on the horizon.

Dotted with little sheds and pockets of green (but no sign of anyone working–well it’s winter!)–they at least were proof that vegetables are grown in this part of France.

Heartening in both senses–good news and good for the heart–after several veg-free meals eaten over a weekend in the restaurants of this ancient regional capital.

Meat is big here–the displays of it in butchers’ windows are impressive.

And often it seems little else on the plate.

True there is the chou (white cabbage)in the ubiquitous choucroute (sauerkraut) but that is not a fresh vegetable and it’s true there are potatoes but they are not an option for me.

Even white fish is served with sauerkraut here!

Vous allez manger bien la-bas! [You’ll eat well there!] we were assured enthusiastically by our friend and neighbor, Thierry, an amateur [fan] of good food when he heard we were heading to Strasbourg for the weekend.

Heavy–yes but bee-an!

At a reception in the celebrated Wine Cave Historique des Hospices de Strasbourgthe guide casually mentioned that there is more cadiovasular disease and Type 2 diabetes in this region than any other in France!

In a cave underneath the hospital of Strasbourg great casks of local wine are stored--including the oldest cask of drinkable wine in the world--so they say!

Our host in Strasbourg, Jean-Michel–(who by the way cooked me a delicious omelette for lunch on Saturday!)–said this part of France had the lowest life expectancy.

Cause and effect?

QED!

But it made me think how difficult it is to change ingrained habits….

The people of Alsace are clearly proud of their cuisine.

It reflects centuries of tradition and daily consumption, deeply connected with the customs and rural way of life autrefois (in times gone by).

But “in times gone by” the people (peasants) worked hard all day in the fields and the food they ate in this northern climate stoked their boilers.

Times have changed–but not the way of eating it seems.

Come to think of it a couple of days hard digging at the allotment would take care of at least two plates of choucroute–and there’d be some vegetables to see for the effort too!!

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Submitted on 2011/08/12 

We used buy a good meat at Mercato di S. Lorenzo (as you best known) were we can found the best steak of Florence. Cooked “al sangue” (at blood); salt and pepper after cooked, in the plate… enjoy!!!
beatrice
Submitted on 2011/08/12 
I forget one most important thing: its good eat the steak one a month. Its really true that in Tuscany around 1950 more people has colestherol and diabetic causes by “steak cooked on the fire”. Fat around the meat causes this problems and the medical study of Careggi’s Hospital in Florence discovered this new and confirmed!!!
beatrice
Submitted on 2011/08/13 

Robin, I have to admit that I do enjoy a good piece of beef, and a nice piece of steak. I do buy my meat from a butcher who knows where his meat has come from. I do pay that bit extra, but I would rather do that & know that the meat is edible and tasty. I have in the past bought meat from supermarkets, but find there is no taste at all in it. I try to keep our intake of red meat (which includes lamb chops) to twice in a week, three times if a make a casserole.  I have to think about Jimmy’s insulin. Now this is where your invaluable book comes into it own – it has been used already.
Best wishes, Elaine

Sometimes I am surprised how cheap meat from the supermarket is compared to other food. At least in Germany it is so because here the competition between the supermarket chains is very hard. Meat has become a mass product and the quality suffers. Cheap prices support factory farming. Meat has no time to ripen. I think many farmers feed too much silage and concentrate. This all has effects on the quality of meat and milk.

I have seen meat packs with origin data only in Austrian supermarkets or in German organic markets. In Tyrol there are still many small mountain farmers who produce good quality.

We should make it like the Southerners and eat meat as a side dish and not as a main course.

Martina

Submitted on 2011/08/12 

I do think it is folly (from both an economic and resource standpoint) to cycle our protein through an animal before we consume it. I do enjoy bacon and sausage now and then, but otherwise my diet is (as Pollan recommends) mainly plant-based. I initially turned to plants out of concern over e.coli (I now know that plants are not safe from e.coli contamination) but I have stayed away from meat because of concerns over the quality of commercially raised meats (added hormones, antibiotics, unnatural diets). I do live in a rural area where many “know” their meat, and that is an exception – whether free range chicken/eggs, grass fed beef, or wild deer.

Debra Wade

Submitted on 2011/08/15 

Since the mad cow disease scare meat in our local butcher’s and supermarkets has to show the provenance, even down to the individual animal. At least it used to; I haven’t checked recently. Certainly the origin of fruit and veggies are regularly shown, i.e., Italy, Chile, Israel whatever.

Argentinian beef is a good bet too, because the animals are ‘free range’ in that they walk to their water, eat grass and don’t get pumped up with undesirable chemicals and additives. It is natural meat (which I have eaten with a spoon, it was that tender!), which is mainy why Argentinians don’t have a cholesterol problem.Since the mad cow disease scare, meat in our local butcher’s and supermarkets has to show the provenance, even down to the individual animal. At least it used to; I haven’t checked recently. Certainly the origin of fruit and veggies are regularly shown, i.e., Italy, Chile, Israel whatever.

a presto, Keith

Submitted on 2011/08/12
Hello Robin,
We used to visit our local farmer and choose the animal we wanted whilst it was still grazing!! Then a couple of weeks later collect the cuts we had ordered. Not so today – so few local abatoirs left. However, there is an excellent farm nearby which sells all its own meat, poultry and even venison. I know how lucky we are, but several supermarkets in UK now print the name of the farm and farmer on meat packs which is very useful.

Sophie-Jane
Submitted on 2011/08/12 
Hello Robin, Leaving aside the question of excessive animal fat intake and disease, I think you could mention too that many of the guidelines on eating meat are written with U.S. beef in mind. It is forbidden to add hormones in France whereas U.S. beef is full of these, as well as a lot more antibiotics than are permitted in France. Consequently, guides on healthy eating from America (including such good reads as Michael Pollen) will advise greatly restricting intake. And for the same reason… we have a lot fewer advice-givers on the topic in France! Although the best beef in France may be from local independent butchers, even the “ordinary” cuts from the regular supermarkets are of decent quality. And a typical serving is much smaller, at home or in a restaurant, than what you’d get elsewhere.
x Susan
Thanks everyone--Robin.

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