Kevin earlier posted a helpful reminder that today is International Eat a Tasty Animal for PETA (aka EATAPETA) Day where human carnivores are urged to eat additional portions of meat to take up the slack for vegetarians, vegans, PETA-types and their sympathizers who are boycotting meat for the day. This is the type of social activism I can get behind – even more so than International Talk Like A Pirate Day (mark your calendars).
On EATAPETA Day I can release the guilt of my animal (blood)lust. When I see a well-proportioned cow in a field I can’t help but undress it mentally as if it were a piece of meat – steaks, chops, ribs, roasts and all. A big reason for that is because back in my copywriting days I once got to work on the Omaha Steaks account, writing ads, promotional materials and — yeah, baby — a catalogue. Through the course of this assignment I learned the differences between chateaubriand, filet mignon, rib-eye, New York and Kansas City strips, t-bones and porterhouses and the miracle process of dry-aging. I would spend the mornings writing succulent words about marbling, tenderness and corn-fed flavor. By lunch time I’d be drooling for the Silver-Butter Knife experience; unfortunately the limit of my budget was strictly Quarter-Pounder with Cheese. After throwing myself at one (or two) of these I’d go back to work; it was akin to Uncle Ben dreaming of Melissa Theuriau — and watching Cyndy Brucato. The pent-up longing and desire I felt no-doubt reflected itself in the descriptions I wrote (we really moved some meat, let me tell you).
This was not to go unrequited, however. The time came to do the photo-shoot for the ads and catalog. Omaha Steaks sent up large quantities of their products. Of course, because it was for advertising purposes, they sent the thickest, juiciest versions available. (Spoiler alert: if you’re getting hungry right now and thinking sizzling thoughts you might want to look away from the next couple of sentences and rejoin this post in the next paragraph.) I learned, however, that food photography is a very difficult and demanding art. No matter how good the quality of the original item, it just doesn’t look good on camera (an important lesson for local restaurants to learn when shooting their commercials). Professional food techs make big bucks to come in and turn so much meat into those gleaming, “eat-me-now” images on slick paper. Trust me, though, no matter how good it looks after the techs have used their sprays, ointments and “make-up” on the meat, it’s not something you want to get your mouth anywhere near.
Ah, but because food spoils quickly under hot lights you have to have lots of product on hand to refresh the shoot if it runs too long. Fortunately our team had some real pros involved and, as much as it hurt to see the “models” unceremoniously scraped into the dumpster when we were done, we still had 30 pounds or so of 3″ thick filets, 2 1/2″ strips, perfectly marbled rib-eyes and the like. What to do? What to do? Well, we simply had one of the best cook-outs in which I’ve ever participated.
Hmmm. This would have been about 1986 or ’87. Wasn’t that about the time when PETA started to get things cooking on their own account. Do you think these might be related?