“Respect the meat” is a cooking-show cliche nowadays. Gordon Ramsey bawling at some terrified housewife: “Look what you did to this fine piece of beef! Disrespectful! What a shame.
” As if any of them think of the cow or what kind of life it had.
Female, almost certainly, because when a dairy cow's womb finally gives out she goes to the slaughterhouse. She has to stay pregnant.
A calf has to grow in that belly, its hoofed spider-legs folded awkwardly around it for the udder to swell.
Every drop of cream in your coffee, every squirt of milk on your child's cornflakes comes at the cost of a veal calf.
She has to stay *useful.* Once she can't supply more calves, more milk, she's done. One last trip and a bolt between the eyes.
I fed my sons cornflakes every morning until they left for college. One's engaged now to a nice young man he met in the seminary. They both dropped out and they're getting married next fall.
Hope I'm able to hobble down the aisle by the time the wedding happens. The other one's in med school, doing real well.
It was hard raising them alone after my husband died, but I'm proud of them. They're proud of me too. The eldest, the never-a-priest, told me it was great to see me starting a new career.
My employer's very rich and very old and he thinks that means he gets whatever he wants, including his special dinners. I think he believes he takes on the qualities of whatever he eats.
Like if he eats a condor's heart (braised in beef stock and Château Pétrus) he can look down on everyone else.
Or if he can dine on Central American river turtle soup (with mirepoix and sherry) he'll become armored and impervious to attack.
I've worked here for three years. My signature roast was what landed me the job, that and my discretion.
My employer loved my roast so much he begged me to make it again, but I told him once a year was my limit.
“It's about respecting the meat,” I told him. “Really respecting it. Loving it. Understanding where it came from and what it's suffered.”
He went along with that. Now I make more money than I know what do with. Most of it I put away for my someday grandkids.
I did splurge on a solid oak walking stick with a real silver handle, though.
Tonight's the night I make my roast. I cleared out the kitchen earlier; no one else can be part of the preparation. They wouldn't understand. Wouldn't respect. Wouldn't love.
When the house is quiet, I hoist myself up on the counter. My knives are already laid out, sharp and gleaming.
I slide my pants off, revealing my thick, muscled legs and the two long, knotty scars on the left one.
They've carried me through a lot. Tonight they'll carry me a little further.