The view under glass at ‘Market Meats’.
Before I begin…. a warning to all vegetarians. The following content is likely to disturb and disgust. But if you are a card carrying meat eater, then why not get comfortable?
So here I am on Day 18 of my ‘100 Day Raw Food Challenge‘. I had realized a month before starting this diet that I would need to sort out my protein sources. Normally, I eat an occasional, small serving of meat. Though it is usually of the organic, med free variety, it is meat none the less. In researching my options, it turned out that Vegans make for 95% of Raw Foodists, while raw meat, fish and (unpasturized) dairy consuming Raw Foodists account for the other 5%. When I learned that the slang for this fringing 5% was ‘Cro-Magnon Raw’, I new I’d found my niche. This was a chance to get in touch with my inner cave woman- if I had the stomach to follow through, that is. Eating cooked meat is one thing, but the very idea of swallowing it down uncooked left me wavering with uncertainty.
According to primatologist and anthropologist Richard Wrangham, the mastery of fire to cook was a key evolutionary turning point for proto-humans. In an excerpt from his book “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human” Wrangham writes “Cooking meant they could get dense, empowering nourishment. Then came bigger brains, a different body and — voila! — homo sapiens. Complete with a social structure built around that fire.” And keep in mind- this was almost two million years ago. I was going to have to ease into this raw meat thing gently.
If you are thinking of consuming any sort of raw animal products, the first and most important thing to do is to find a good source. By ‘good’ I mean a reputable, hygienic, informative and consistent supplier that you feel a trust and comfort with- no different than how one chooses their other suppliers and services. Whether it’s the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker….. it is always best to patronize those that we feel a rapport with, those that become a reliable fixture in our daily lives and in our communities.
For me, Market Meats is just such a place. Located in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood, this outstanding butcher shop / ‘protein boutique’ has been offering a top notch selection of quality products and exceptional service for over 13 years. All meat and poultry is chemical free, free range and as local as possible (mostly from B.C. and Alberta). Some, but not all products are organic. Just ask, and they will be happy to answer any of your questions and also to offer excellent recommendations. When I popped in one day last week and presented them with my new dietary challenge, we collaborated on ‘Beef Carpaccio’. They firmed up a 4 oz beef tenderloin for 15 minutes in the freezer and then sliced it thinly (on their slicer, while I waited). As he prepared my order, butcher extraordinaire Spencer even suggested a Dijon, caper and olive oil dressing, which I ended up making to finish this dish. You are going to pay more to buy such products, but just like Mamma said, you get what you pay for. The 4 oz cut I purchased set me back $14, but it would serve four people as an appetizer. At $3.50 a head, it’s a bargain at twice the price. Buying well and consuming smaller servings is healthier and need not cost the earth…..
As for my Beef Carpaccio experiment, it certainly was not love at first sight. When I got home and opened the package, I realized immediately that it was going to take some thoughtful presentation to get me in the mood. After whisking up Spencer’s recipe for ‘Dijon Caper Sauce’, I arranged the tenderloin slices on a dinner plate, all the while thinking of the petals of a rose. I even garnished the centre of the plate with a colourful mixture of greens from my garden and then finished the presentation with a sprinkling of freshly snipped chives. The first few bites did not win me over, but by slice number two, my trepidation had melted away and I found myself in a carnivorous Nirvana. I’m quite sure that my incisors grew longer (and sharper) and the hair on the back of my neck stood up just a little. It was primal and it was delicious.
Beef Carpaccio with Dijon Caper Sauce
4 oz (200gr) fresh, raw beef tenderloin, thinly sliced
2 good servings of salad greens lightly tossed in extra virgin olive oil
right before serving
1 T chives, finely chopped
1 T Dijon Mustard
1 T capers, roughly chopped
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t balsamic vinegar
1/8 t salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 ½ T water
Whisk together the sauce ingredients. Assemble carpaccio by laying the meat slices onto a dinner plate, in a circle, in a single layer and leaving a hole in the centre (dividing the meat evenly between 2 dinner or 4 appetizer plates ). Drizzle the sauce around the meat slices. Pile one handful of greens in the centre of each plate. Sprinkle the chives on top of the greens and the meat. Serve with bread or…… when eating a raw diet….. flax crackers! Serves 2 as a meal, or 4 as an appetizer.