Monday, May 23, 2011

Truck Steak

The other day, as I was pouring myself a glass of wine and reviewing the recipe I’d be making that night for dinner (Gnocchi with Asparagus, Shrimp & Pesto), there was a knock at my door. Ever since I became single again I’ve been more cautious about opening the door to strangers, and I’ll often ignore solicitors completely. But I was expecting a package and didn’t bother to look through the peephole and just flung the door open. This was one time I really should have looked through the peephole first.

“Hi! How ya doin’?” asked a large, cheery woman wearing jeans and a black camisole tank top two sizes too small for her ample bosom.

“Um… fine.”

“Well, listen, I work for a business just down the road and we were making some deliveries in the area…” She gestured over her shoulder toward the beat up white pickup truck idling in the street with what looked like a used washing machine in the back.

My first thought was appliance deliveries, and the shriveled little bit of optimism that still lives somewhere deep inside me thought, “Oh, they’ve come to see if I need any junk hauled away! How nice!”

“Uh huh…”

“So let me ask you – do you still do a lot of cooking at home?”

My second thought was, “Shit, she’s trying to sell me something. I knew I should have looked through that damn peephole.” 

“Uh huh…”

“And do you like to eat good steak?”

That’s when it all came together for me. That large appliance in the back of her dirty old pickup wasn’t a washing machine but a freezer, and they were selling steaks out of it. That was also the point at which the dirty rotten liar in me kicked into gear.

“Oh, sorry, I don’t eat red meat,” I said, smiling and lying through my carnivorous, blood-thirsty teeth.

The poor woman looked genuinely confused. “Really? You don’t eat red meat?”

“Nope. Sorry. I really shouldn’t live in Texas, should I?” And then I promptly closed the door.

Here’s the thing: I do eat red meat. Not a lot of it, but I appreciate a juicy, well-prepared, medium rare steak. In fact, I even get a hankering for it once in a while. But I have a general rule about purchasing raw protein out of the back of a pickup truck: unless it’s at a farmer’s market and from a reputable vendor, I don’t do it.

Why? Two reasons. First, I watch a fair amount of the “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on The Food Network, and do you know how not one single story on that show begins? “Well, you see, I was just minding my own business one day when some stranger knocked on my door and offered to sell me some fine steak out of the back of her dirty, beat up old pickup truck.” Nope, none of them begin that way. Not. one.

Second, I also watch a lot of Dateline NBC, and do you know how almost all of their episodes covering food-borne illnesses start out? Do you?!? With tales of poor sanitation, cross contamination, and improperly stored proteins. And that pickup truck looked like a breeding ground for all three.

And that is why I will not buy or eat Truck Steak.

I’m sorry for lying to you, Truck Steak Saleslady. I’m sure you’re a perfectly nice person just trying to make an honest living, and in all likelihood your steaks wouldn’t have left me dead, or worse – hunched over a toilet for days and wishing I was dead. But I’m just not willing to be famous for being The Idiot Who Bought Steak Out of the Back of a Truck and Then Almost Died. Sorry.

Now, my neighbors down the street, on the other hand… they’re a whole different story.

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