Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"For most people in Argentina, a vegetarian is something you eat."

Too many heavy stories in the news. Too much gravitas.
Time to escape.

Since I have neither the money nor the time, the best way out is a well-done travelogue. Tom McMahon has just the ticket. I don't know where he finds stuff like this, but it's reason enough to keep him on my list of places to read.

All you need to know about the quality of pasture in the pampas is that cows went feral in Argentina. You can still see them grazing pretty much anywhere there is a horizontal patch of grass, all now firmly back in the hand of man, but still with a happy grassy glint in their eye. This most docile, placid, and passive of large herbivores stepped off the boat, took one nibble at the pampas and made a run for it. It knew that it wanted to spend the rest of its life eating the pampas grass, without outside interference. And the settlers, once they caught some of the early escapees, began to feel the same way about the beef.

Eating steaks in Argentina feels like joining a cult. You find yourself leaning on friends to come visit, and writing YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND in all caps more often than feels comfortable. Argentine beef really is extraordinary. Almost all of this has to do with how the cows are raised. There are no factory feedlots in Argentina; the animals still eat pampas grass their whole lives, in open pasture, and not the chicken droppings and feathers mixed with corn that pass for animal feed in the United States. Since this is the way of life a cow was designed for, it is not necessary to pump the animal full of antibiotics. The meat is leaner, healthier and more flavorful than that of corn-fed cattle. It has fewer calories, contains less cholesterol, and tastes less mushy and waterlogged than American meat. And the cows spend their lives out grazing in the field, not locked into some small pen. You can taste the joy.

Okay, then.
Go get a cuppa. Sit back and enjoy the read.
This makes me want to save my money and update the picture in my passport.

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