Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Curiously Disappearing Stench of Meat

In Minnesota, we have an average of about four days where the mercury rises above the 100 mark.  Those days are usually linked together by similar tempered nights.  By the time the warm spell is over, everyone is exhausted, hunkering down in front of the nearest fan or cuddling up by the closest air conditioning vent.  People who hate the taste and penitent obligation of drinking water suddenly go through a religious experience and drink gallons by the day.  Toilets are infrequently used, being that the water taken in is excreted through sweat glands and pores that mysteriously appear during the heat wave and then disappear, just as quickly, only to return as goosebumps on goosebumps the rest of the year.  Constipation increases.

Then, the stench begins.  First, slowly, then as the days progress, the air begins to get heavy with the smell of rotting flesh.  Any long grassed ditch one passes, if they fail to close their nose, the stomach spasms will inevitably commence.  Road kill that was tossed into the ditch by Minnesota law enforcement permeates the air with its sweet sickly smell.

This is what I smelled throughout my childhood whenever I came home to the frying of ground beef.  My initial reaction would be to wrinkle my nose and keel over, holding the back of my knees, breathing heavily.  Then, when I would realize it was edible food, my mouth would begin to water and I would hungrily look forward to dinner.  Ground beef, in those years, never tasted like it smelled.  But, the distinction was clear.

Then I grew up.  Meat has lost its smell and kept its flavor.  What happened?  Are we using different animal feed?  Did all ground beef used to rot in the grocery store but taste fine after cooking it?  Did the grocery stores in Northeast Minneapolis secretly stock a rat and ferret mix and call it ground beef, knowing that it would smell like rotting meat and taste like beef?  If that is the case, why does all other meat taste like chicken but a rat and ferret mix taste like beef?  Or, does beef taste like a rat and ferret mix without the stench while it is fried?

I need answers.


  1. Why are we talking about 100 degree temperatures when its below zero out there....some kind of torture plan ?

  2. I was just hungry, as usual. But 100 degrees sounds good right about now.

  3. I remember a time (speaking of rotten meat), when, down at 'the farm', I walked into the house, to find the deeply pervasive smell of rotting meat. Investigating, I found that the previous user of the house, must have misread the 'closing house' directions. The refrigerator had been shut off for a month, and about 40 pounds of packaged meats were now rotting quietly in the freezer. We had no choice but to remove the the meat, dispose of it (dumped it in the woods for the coyotes to eat), and clean out the fridge. I've never quite gotten over that experience...

  4. 40 pounds of meat. Wow. Wonder if they were good cuts.

  5. Some were. Some were Oscar Meyer franks. Others were steaks, venison chops, roasts, burger, etc.