The Meatpaper party was not hard to find. Retro posters of tripe and assorted unusual fleshy goods festooned the windows of Sugarlump coffee lounge in the Mission. A gauntlet of charcuterie, terrines, and patés began just inside the front door and stretched for 20 feet.
Hordes of hip carnivores pecked and shoved like vintage-clad vultures around the tables set up by Prather Ranch/Incanto, Bovolo/Zazu, Perbacco, and others. This being San Francisco, there were also some vegetarian samples also making the rounds, but I skipped them.
The "hoof-and-mouth" terrine by Incanto chef — and occasional blogger over at Offal Good — Chris Cosentino was my clear favorite in the first pass, until I happened upon the lardo from Perbacco in round two. Slivers of cured pork fatback melted like a savory, herby butter into crusty chunks of bread. It was heavenly, better than any I can remember having in Italy. Perbacco chef Staffan Terje railed against factory pork and rhapsodized about Berkshire heritage hogs that he turned into this fatty manna, looking the other way as I went for fourths on the lardo and thirds of the rich dark blood sausage he was serving up with bits of apple.
"Welcome to the fleischgeist*," said Sasha Wizansky, one of the two editors and founders of Meatpaper, the new "journal of meat culture" whose coming-out party it was Tuesday night.
"Meatpaper," write Wizansky and co-editor Amy Standen in Issue Zero, "is an investigation into what we see as a growing cultural trend of meat consciousness. It explores a category of food that inspires intense emotions and reactions."
The first issue packs a weighty wallop for just 20 pages.
There's some, ahem, killer photography, including a portrait of Cosentino holding his favorite ingredients (left, by Lisa Hamilton) and some gorgeous yet incredibly disturbing images of a hog slaughter in Italy. A "shameless hypocrite" conducts a smart and funny Q&A about the ethics of meat eating with "Shameless Carnivore" Scott Gold. A two-page spread features a map made of Spam.
There are no barbecue recipes. No glistening, juicy pork-chop porn. Just good writing about animals who eat other animals – and alone among the world's species, as far as we know, sometimes struggle with guilt over doing so.
Welcome to the table, Meatpaper! And thanks for all the tasty meat.
*My husband, aka the Potato Non Grata, who speaks Dutch and some German, nitpicks that while zeitgeist means "spirit of the times," fleischgeist literally means "flesh ghost" or "meat spirit," not "meat of the times." Which is also bad news for dietgeist, my preferred pun on the conscious-eating trend. I believe they both work if you don't think too hard.