Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pig Knuckles and a Menu

Angel called me at work today to tell me about her search for organ meats in the Traverse City, Michigan area, specifically brains and pork knuckles.  Her first try was Paradise Meats, a local butcher shop where we're regular customers, and they said they could order it, no problem...but we'd have to buy a full 10lb. box.  Of brains.  Next, she tried a larger meat processor, Ebel's, that has a decent reputation in the area.  They told her that they could get most organ meats if ordered a week in advance, but that brains in particular had very stringent USDA guidelines and would take longer.

At this point, I asked my wife why she was asking about brains -- I mean, we want to eat traditional foods, but it's not like Poland is an island nation known for consuming every last morsel of edible food from a carcass.  She reassured me that she only picked brains as an extreme example of organ meats.  (Later conversations with a Polish friend of hers confirmed that brains are a traditional Polish food...but not a common food, and her friend has never, in fact, eaten brains.  Thank God.)

In all, my wife spent a couple of hours on the phone with a total of seven different meat and or specialty stores.  In the end, we do need pig knuckles for a soup, and it turns out there are two different kinds available:  the actual bone, and just the meat.  I'm not sure which one we need.

It turns out that in order to really eat like Polish people, we're going to need a yogurt-like cheese called Quark that is eaten by almost everyone, especially at breakfast time.  It's funny, the way this project already touches parts of my life -- when I was seven, my family lived in Germany for a summer, and I remember eating Quark; squishing it into my Super Sugar Crisp cereal. ("Hey, Sugar Bear!!"  Remember those ads, before sugar became the enemy, and that cereal became Super Golden Crisp?  Wow, sorry for the tangent.) Good stuff, but as common as it is in almost all of Europe, it's apparently non-existent in the U.S. and we'll have to make our own from buttermilk.

Interesting tidbit -- they don't eat lunch in Poland, or is it dinner?.  They have two breakfasts, one at home, and then one at work a couple of hours later.  They then eat an early dinner, around 2 pm.  They generally don't snack, and they don't drink alcohol during the week -- weekends only.

And...after my wife beat her head into the books for eight hours, we have a seven-day menu of breakfasts and dinners, ready to unleash on ourselves.

For this country, my wife used the following books for recipes and info on the culture:
And of course, Hungry Planet, by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio

1 comment:

  1. Mmmmm... brains. My mouth is watering at the thought.