Wednesday, August 25, 2010

From Veganism To Reindeer Steak

Within two days, I've spanned pretty much the entire culinary spectrum on AOL News.

First, of course, was my report on Wynn Resorts' new vegan gambit, which I also covered on this blog last week.

Then, today, Rudolph is on the menu! My trip to Alaska was a failure as far as dealing effectively with the private family drama that drew me there, but I did, as usual, find myself a story to share with the Lower 48.

I caught a piece by Jeff Richardson of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner about a study by the University of Alaska at Fairbanks' Reindeer Research Program to determine whether consumers will buy reindeer as steak and at what prices. (See, Ms. Neff, there are many values to reading a printed newspaper that have nothing to do with who's up and down in an election.)

Important stuff? Probably not. But it did give me the unique opportunity to open my story with this:

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (Aug. 25) -- Ever watch "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and think, "I wonder what that little guy would taste like on the grill?"

I admit I did taste a little reindeer. No, not the cute ones I photographed from the UAF farm. They're still alive and well ... for now.

No, I spotted an egg dish with "reindeer sausage" on the menu of the diner we ate at the night we arrived in Fairbanks. While it was tasty and spicy, UAF researcher George Aguilar told me that kick probably was thanks to spices and not Prancer as "reindeer sausage" tends to have less than 10 percent reindeer meat. The rest of pork and beef, he said. He does, however, wax rhapsodic about the taste of a good Blitzen burger:

"It's a high-protein, low-fat, super-tender, high-mineral meat. As far as quality, it's tender, really tender. It's one of the most tender meats in the world. All the fat is on the outside of the animal, so you don't get marbling. It has a sweet taste. It doesn't have a gamey taste."

Mmmm. That and the fava bean puree at Alex sounds like a winner.

This story also took me inside the intriguing world of the reindeer-for-Christmas-events industry, which I suspect is a topic for The Petcast soon. They're apparently really nice pets for folks with a little property and Kyle Wilson of Rocky Hill Reindeer Leasing in Knoxville, Tenn., says he gets $3,000 each providing them for church groups or Christmas tree farms from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Wilson doesn't see a big reindeer steak market anytime soon:

"More than anything else, it's not politically correct to eat Rudolph. We who have them, rent them or show them, we get the warm-and-fuzzy thing going on, and the furthest thing from your mind is eating one of them. In the Lower 48, we have it for Christmas, but we don't eat it for Christmas."


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The Celiac Husband said...


That's funny.