The story of Mr. Cutlets
Posted 06 November 2003 - 07:38 PM
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, firstname.lastname@example.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)
Posted 07 November 2003 - 12:04 PM
Posted 07 November 2003 - 01:55 PM
Posted 07 November 2003 - 04:26 PM
The expansion of American industry in the Gilded Age gave young Mr. Cutlets the opportunity he had been looking for. A felicitous friendship with the young August Swift and later, Philip Armour led to a consulting position in the nascent meatpacking business, and young Mr. Cutlets first assumed the meaty mantle when directing the construction of New York's meat-market district, concurrently with his work tending to the poor of Chicago's stockyards, making sure that they worked long enough hours to get the country filled with meat. Soon Mr. Cutlets realized that the source of all meat was neither immigrant labor nor posh broadway restaurants, but rather the animal on the hoof in the distant west, the "Virgin Land" whose vast plains and infinite vistas would inspire Frederick Jackson Turner to define America by its vanished frontier a few years later. The frontier was still open then, however, and so Mr. Cutlets set out west by ox-cart, arriving in Abilene for the last of the great cattle-drives before the closing of the Open Range would transform the american beef industry forever. It was there that Mr. Cutlets developed the deep emotional bond with bovine animals that would mark his eating habits for years to come.
The Cattle Kingdom passed into history, and the vast herds of buffalo disappeared from the plains, partially as a result of Mr. Cutlets' eating habits in these voracious years. And when the last of "the big shaggies" were gone, Mr. Cutlets returned east to help advise the newly-elected President McKinley on meat issues -- a position he has fulfilled for every subsequent US President. The progressive era was a happy one for Mr. Cutlets; his name was one to conjure with, and statesmen and beef barons quailed alike at the thought of a hard word dropping from his pen. The haughtiest hostesses and the comliest coquettes alike primped for his tri-chinned attentions. But the Great War swept that world away, and the depression taught the meat-man a much-needed lesson in humility, as red flannel hash replaced canvasback duck at rector's. Although elderly by the time of World War II, Mr. Cutlets volunteered, and was given an exemption to serve by President Roosevelt himself. Four hellish years in the Pacific taught Mr. Cutlets the evils of which a vegetarian people were capable, and he returned to an optimistic country a thinner, more hopeful, hungrier man.
He assisted Pierre Franey in the creation of the Howard Johnson's revamped menu, and did much to help America stock its refrigerators with plump and fatty post-war meats. Although the optimism of the Eisenhower era waned, Mr. Cutlets authority in meat-matters only grew larger, and soon a group of troubled, alienated youths gathered around his feet at his opulent New York state mansion. Pronounced as a "Guru" by the media and as "Father Meat" by his starry-eyed stable of flower children, Mr. Cutlets passed his 110th year eating veal at a communal table, and spending his nights in the company of voluptuous innocents. Where beef, pork, and veal had formerly sustained him, he was now given over to new and ever more exotic meats -- tandoori chicken, as introduced to him by the Majarishi; and char-siu by his friends in the Red Guard. Eventually, misconduct by his charges -- of which Mr. Cutlets was COMPLETELY UNAWARE -- led to the dissolution of his fortune and the savaging of his once-spotless reputation. The seventies were a bleak time for Mr. Cutlets, and the Republican ascendancy did him little good in the decade that followed. By the 1990s, Mr. Cutlets was approaching his 130th year, and while still eating enough meat for a dozen men every day, his constitution began to fail him.
It was then that he conceived of Meat Me in Manhattan, as a way of imparting the love and study of meat to the 21st century, and of insuring his many widows, mistresses, and god-children a steady stream of income once he had been dumped into potter's field. There, he hopes, a rib-roast-red flower will grow, and children will trod upon the soil with a hot dog or satay stick held in their tiny hand. Though Mr. Cutlets must pass away, the human race lives on, and eats on, as long as there is an AMERICA to feed, and a single animal left standing to feed it with. His last days are illuminated by this furtive, elegant wish.
Posted 07 November 2003 - 05:04 PM