Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Where palette meets palate.



For the past several years I have been fascinated by the fascination with “Certified Angus Beef.” It shows up on all manner of menus, from fine dining establishments to fast food emporiums. In supermarket meat cases, too. It’s supposed to mean something.
I don’t get it.
Growing up, we raised cattle. Herefords. (Red with distinctive patterns of white.) I worked for a rancher who had some Herefords, some Angus (black), Galloways (black), and a bunch of crossbreds (mostly black with white faces and markings—black bally, we called them). My dad punched cows for a big outfit that had cows of many colors and crosses—Charolais (white), shorthorn (mostly red), and the aforementioned breeds. There were a few exotic breeds like Simmentals around, but not so many as nowadays.
We ate beef from cattle of all colors. Some meat was better than other meat, but that had to do with how and what the cow was fed rather than the color of its hide. In fact, once a cow’s hide has been peeled you would be hard pressed to know from the meat inside what color the cow used to be on the outside—if you could know at all.
I once heard the great cowboy singer and songwriter Dave Stamey say on stage that he admired the people behind the “Certified Angus Beef” campaign for convincing us of the cockamamie notion that a color has a flavor.
I think he’s right.


4 comments:

  1. Me, too. A great advertising gimmick. My dad said breeds of cattle go in and out of style. When I was a girl, it was black angus; now it's come around again. I thought the important thing was beef to bone ratio, but my dad was the cattleman, not me!

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    1. Thanks, Vicky. It is a pretty good gimmick, I suppose, but that's what it is--a gimmick.

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  2. What? Are you suggesting that America doesn't love its propaganda? Our mountain cows taste different according to what they are eating, not the pigment in their hair follicles. But my hat is off to the men in offices that think in terms of ones and zeros and billboards.

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    1. Having spent 40 years in the ad business, I can honestly say I know it is a rare bird who will admit to being influenced by advertising; most deny it vociferously. Still, a goodly number of us seem to be willing to believe that the color of hair follicles on a cow does make its meat taste different. Curious.

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