So Sir Loin and I are on vacation in Mexico, near Tulum. It’s about two hours outside of Cancun, and they’ve developed it to be a sort of anti-Girls-Gone-Wild environment. Spring Break for grown-ups. Everything is eco this and eco that. (We stayed in an eco-hut with no electricity and brackish water, but lest anyone worry that we suffered there, the hut was right on the ocean and you could get room service if you hung a little red flag outside your front door. Pretty awesome.) Whether or not a thatched roof makes you more or less eco is a conversation for another time.
Anyway, on day two or three, tired after arduous hours of sitting on our bottoms and reading, we ventured into town to sit on our bottoms while eating. Ellen, who ran the front desk at our hotel recommended an Argentine steakhouse called El Pequeno Buenos Aires. Not exactly local taqueria fare (they are known for their winelist, to start) but I figured that we’d be eating meat from Argentina. I seem to vaguely remember that Argentine beef is grass-fed, and while it isn’t exactly local to Tulum, it’s more local to Tulum than to, say, San Francisco.
The friendly waiter sells me on what he calls the Argentine cut. It’s from the rump, he says, really fatty, gives it a lot of flavor. And man was he right. So, I say between dribbly mouthfuls, this is from Argentina? Mmm, no not exactly, Argentina doesn’t export beef right now, he says, mentioning something about GATT, which I take to mean this. Or maybe it’s something to do with NAFTA (this is Sir Loin’s recollection, which is usually more trustworthy than mine). I’m bummed.
So, ah, where do you get your steaks, I say. Canada he says, and I sigh down at the bloody saddle of cowflesh in front of me, hoping that this rudeness is imperceptible. But, he continues — and this is where it gets really weird — the babies are born here in the Yucatan, quite nearby. Then they get shipped up to Canada to fatten and be slaughtered. (Sir Loin seems to recall that there’s more land for them up there, or maybe it’s a water issue or something.) Either way, that’s so crazy backasswards I can’t quite stand it, but my émigré meat is getting cold, and I don’t want the pleasant waiter to feel like I’m dissing his nice steak. I settle for one last question.
Do they eat corn or grass, do you know, I say? Oh, here they eat grass, he says. Later they get corn meal. But it’s not good for them to eat corn. Their stomachs aren’t made for it.
I now have less stomach for my grass-fed-but-not-really-and-local-but-not-really steak.
But I eat it anyway.