Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lulubelle? Is That You?

I grew up in a small city in northern Michigan.  The high school I attended was the only one for our entire county, serving a total population of 30,000 or so souls, about half of whom lived in the city (where my own family resided), and the other half were spread throughout the county, mostly on farms.  Thus, during the course of the school day, I was studying and otherwise rubbing shoulders with both city kids and farm kids, and the sports teams I played on were similarly diverse (mainly football and baseball; tennis and golf, not so much).  In my Driver's Ed class, most of the farm kids had been driving tractors since they were ten or so, and a stick-shift was not an exotic concept to them.

We generally got along pretty well with each other, and there wasn't this huge 'city/country' divide.  Most of my closest friends tended to be city kids, like me, but that was far from hard-and-fast.

In fact, one of my good friends was a fellow honor-student, who eventually attended the US Naval Academy, whose family lived on a farm many miles from town (you may recall him as the fellow with whom I shared a small adventure with a train during our senior year).  One time, I was having dinner with his family at their house, when I came starkly face-to-face with one of the sharp cultural differences between city-dwellers and farm-dwellers.

We were having steak for dinner (nothing like a good, hearty farm dinner, for sure), and as the steaks were being plated and distributed, my friend's younger sister turned to their father and asked, "Is this Lulubelle?"  'Cuz, you know, Lulubelle was the name of one of their cows, who had recently been butchered. . .

Now, even us city kids weren't so 'citified' as all THAT.  We were a long, long way from the 'big cities' down south, and we knew where meat came from, beyond simply 'The Store'.  But it was the least bit disorienting to me, to think that I might be eating something that had had a name, and not all that long ago. . .


  1. My daughter went home with her roommate right after graduation. Roommate's family owns a huge dairy farm in central PA. A bit of a culture shock for my daughter, but fortunately, no butchering going on! She did get to milk a cow for the first time and thanks to FB, I got to see the whole thing!

  2. Heh heh, my first meal on my Uncle's farm started with a cookie tray coming out of the oven with a cow tongue standing up on it.

    Her name was Powder Puff, in case it matters, and she was mighty tasty.

  3. i remember eating with great relish, two very pesky chickens named laverne and shirley.

  4. Shoot. I even have trouble throwing a lobster into a boiling pot of water and I'm never on a first-name basis with them.

  5. Oh, and I was just reminded: When we got chickens Queenie and the girls were all into naming them. Until they found out we might some day eat 'em when egg laying was done ... suddenly names weren't all so important.

    They're my nameless posse now, 6 strong.

  6. Bijoux - See, now, my inner 12-year-old is beggin' me for some air here. . .

    But no; I'll be good. . .

    Those 'culture-shock' moments are all good, at any rate. . .

    Xavier - One of my college housemates was a farm-guy, and he used to bring home organ-meats from the butcher semi-regularly, 'cuz they were cheap. I remember the time he brought us a tongue. Which looked just like. . . a cow's tongue. We all just kinda sat there, looking at it, laying on the platter, waiting for it to lick us, or something. . .

    Lime - I'm guessing the peskiness contributed greatly to the relish. . .

    Suldog - Yeah, lookin' 'em in the eye just makes you feel like such a jerk. . .

    My kids like to quote a line from The Frisco Kid (Gene Wilder, Harrison Ford; incidentally, one of my absolute favorite movies), as Gene Wilder is chasing a bird which he hopes will become his dinner - "I don't want to hurt you, I just want to eat you. . ."

    Xavier, redux - So yer wimmin like to keep their food and their 'pets' in separate compartments, also?

  7. I keep wanting to comment, but the verification words are a distraction's Monday, okay?

    Anyhow, Pop's parents (my step-grandparents, a couple of old-country Swedes) had a farm where they mostly grew stuff (alfalfa, beans, melons...). But, there were also chickens raised for the egg money, about 120 of them. They only named the ones with obvious physical attributes, Crooked Foot was one, or certain personality traits. Every cat had the same name. They never actually killed a chicken, but periodically we'd have chicken fricassee for dinner. The would occasionally raise a pig and call it the Swedish equivalent of noname.

  8. My mom used to try to trick us into not realizing we were eating our rabbits by throwing chicken wings in with the meat when she cooked them. We all knew it was rabbit anyway... it tastes slightly different and looks different too... but none of us really cared. When you're on a farm, you know that you don't get too attached to the animals.

  9. My husband & I have become close friends with a woman that raises goats (and other meat) in PA. I was fortunate enough to vist her last(2010) winter during birthing season. Hubs took the children skiing and I really enjoyed bottle feeding the just born kids (glad I had on old clothing, still a bit of birth shmutz here and there) they were so very adorable once they got on their feet!
    One of them tasted really good cooked on a spit last summer.
    My friend just brought us some pig. I met that one 2 months ago when it could still oink.
    I'm looking forward to the veal coming soon.
    I am happy to eat food with a face and food that I know has been humanely raised by a person I love and respect.
    Never thought this chick from Miami Beach would say that sort of stuff!

  10. Ugh - I would freak out if I knew they name of my meal. But I'm a Suburb Boy.

  11. JM - You ate bunnies?? Excuse me. . . OK, better now. But yeah, isn't that what they say about pretty much all of those 'small-critter' meats - that they taste like chicken? ;)

    Schweeney - Yeah, see, that whole 'I saw you being born, and nursed you as a baby, and now I'm gonna eat you' thing would be a little freaky for me, I think. But then, for a farm kid, probably not so much. . .

    Uncool - So, you understand my long-ago discomfort. . . ;)

  12. Ahh, but tongue is sooo worth it, wouldn't you say??

    And yes, they would like to keep pets and munchies separate. And I have to admit I wasn't quite honest, the ladies do have names:

    And ... wait for it ...


  13. Xavier -- your chicken names crack me up.

    Craig -- been thinking for awhile about going veggie... this post and ensuing comments might have just added another leg to the hike over to the other side. :)

  14. Xavier - What - no 'Cacciatore'?

    Flutter - Actually, these days I eat a lot less meat than I used to. . .

    But if you start giving names to your cabbages, you're in a world of trouble (in more ways than one). . .

  15. yes, having been responsible to feed and water the chickens and gather eggs....the peskier the chicken the more gladly i chowed down on it. they are stupid, dirty creatures and being attacked when i brought them food and water did not endear them to me.

  16. i will admit to crying every year when the pigs were loaded up for slaughter though. they were my friends.

  17. Lime - I see yer point. . . Ungrateful wretches. . .

    And, well, I've been called a pig on occasion. . . Can we be friends?