Analogue Marketing

You know what I like about Philadelphia? How it takes 3 weeks to get the library card that was supposed to show up in 3-5 days. And how when it finally gets here it comes in a hand addressed envelope from the Rodriguez branch.

And that expire date written in black sharpie. 


A Case of Mistaken Locations

I left my house this morning at 4:05 AM to ride the holiday rails down to PHL. It's been a long time since I've flown out of a big airport during the Holidayz; Rochester and Madison never had much a line at security. I slipped onto my flight to MKE via DTW 10 minutes before scheduled take-off. Upon landing Svetlana showed me this:

It was a little unsettling. I tried to check in, which didn't help my case of the Oh-Shit-I-Got-Onto-The-Wrong-Flightsies. I was legitimately concerned that I had gotten onto the wrong plane.

Finally Qrank came through and straightened things out though.

Later, after landing in Milwaukee, Svetlana got herself all mixed up again. This time I was at Logan International. She knew one thing, I was definitely at an airport. Which one though?


Enter the 30s

I recently turned 30. As the last of the Barnebey Brothers to do so, I felt some pressure to out-do the previous 30th celebrations at the B2G2. There had already been a luau/pig roast and a whole goat butchered and spit roasted—I was left with few options other than to out meat my older brothers. And thus the 30 Meats for 30 Years was born. And what better time to finally bring the mythical Osturducken Hen to realization!

We'd been batting around the Osturducken ball for a couple of years; ever since a late-in-the-night Thanksgiving conversation got us thinking about how to one-up a turducken—the turducken having become common enough to be unimpressive. The solution: stick the turducken into an ostrich, and while we're at it, let's stick a cornish game hen in there as well. And so the Osturducken Hen was born. And it was a glorious occasion. 

Initial research led to gauzy South African references to an Osturducken of lore, although any documentation of such a beast having ever actually been produced was always conspicuously absent. And there was certainly never a mention of a game hen chaser. There was however frequent reference to the number of chickens which can be stuffed inside one camel for the purpose of roasting. If you ever find yourself with 80 chickens, a camel, and a large crowd to feed you know what to do.

The Osturducken Hen Operation faced resistance from all sides right from the very beginning, not the least of which was a strong current of paternal naysaying. The most pressing issue of course was where do you buy an ostrich from. Or put slightly differently, who would be willing to sell us an entire ostrich? Do not fall into the trap of thinking that just because you've seen an ostrich burger, or an ostrich steak somewhere that you can go out and order a whole bird from you neighborhood meatman. I've heard it before and it's not true. 
Look into its eyes.

That being said, the search began. Philadelphia's usually reliable exotic meat merchants proved not only unable to supply us but also uninterested in the challenge. Internet research yielded countless ostrich farms, none in the whole-bird business. Eataly recommended going south, maybe South Carolina or Georgia. We considered it. Evan put in for a day off work to allow for driving time.

The search went on with varying degrees of intensity for months. Until finally, from the unlikeliest of corners, came the call: "I've got a guy with an ostrich. He'll kill it Friday morning for you. You have to pick it up though." And so it came to pass that Evan went to see my birthday present killed and kleaned on a Friday morning. 
Still alive when he showed up, our bird was quickly separated from the herd, blindfolded, and shot in the head. With a supererogatory slit to the throat, it was drained, hung from a tractor, skinned, and gutted. Documentation of the process was allowed, but only with the stipulation, "Just don't put that on the damn internet." So I guess I won't. You probably don't want to see it anyway, turns out ostriches have a lot of blood hidden in those long necks.

Here is Evan demonstration just how long that neck is:

Are you confused by the geometry of that carcass? Don't worry, I'll explain. That hole up top is the neck hole. Then its back, which is where all the meats are located. And then the drumstick, cut off above the ankle. Here's a visual. Here's another:

First up was a quick bath in the kitchen sink.

And then backbone removal(!).

And finally the trussing. The (other) birds had all been brined the day before, but the deboning was still left to do. Here's a surprise, a duck is much easier to debone than a chicken. Remember that for the next time Padma let's you choose your own fowl.

With the deboning complete we stuffed a turkey into the ostrich, a duck into the turkey, a chicken into the duck, and a cornish game hen into the chicken. Then tied the whole thing into one ostrich-sized meat-bindle. And then wrapped it all in bacon, to seal in the moisture.

And with that we stuck it in the 4 foot hole Evan had dug in our dad's back yard, covered it with coals and hot rocks, and threw some dirt over it. Extrapolating from google's recommendations for cooking a pig in a pit, we estimated our ~130 lbs of meat would take 15-16 hours. We put it into the hole at the stroke of midnight. By 8:00 AM our remote thermometer had hit 160° F. It turns out we are nothing if not decidedly able to build an amazing bed of coals. Such a bed of coals that you can cook an ostrich in 8 hours!

Here's the thing though. The Osturducken Hen was only the beginning. The meat parade actually started off with a family-sized pack of Tijuana Mamas (300% hotter than a regular mama) which arrived by post. These little numbers were a fixture of Rochester Crew Springs for several years running, for no good reason at all.

And after that the meats started pouring in. Here is a picture of the B2G2 early in the afternoon with only one meat, a box of wine, and a bottle of beer.

Immediately after this picture was taken the table filled to the brims with meats, the keg was kicked, I was wearing a Taco costume, and all the Oreo™s had been deep fried. Because we had an industrial sized deep fryer. And Joanna had made me a Taco costume, so that I could play the part of a meat also. Or at least that's how I remember it happening.
Ostrich leg & associates.

One taco—lettuce, tomato, guac, and cheese please.

And also, the serious black & white polaroid taco. Because Vivienne (joint 30ther) is amazing and believes in the impossible.

The rest of the night? Mostly a blur of amazing, mixed with awesomeness and low-light pictures. Highlights included, but were not limited to:

  1. The Meats
  2. The deep fried quail
  3. The deep fried pickles
  4. The deep fried Oreo™s
  5. The other meats
  6. The Taco dances
  7. The boots
  8. The empty keg at 10:00 PM
  9. The extra cases of beer
  10. The Deep fried alligator
No really, THE DEEP FRIED ALLIGATOR. A winner for most unexpectedly delicious meat.

   11. THE CAKE
   12. The Meat List:
   14. The roast lamb.
   15. This picture:
The Ukraine has no time for smiles, only winters.
    16. And also this picture:
Giant bones require giant cups.

Final thoughts:

I'm going to buy my dad a deep fryer so that we don't have to keep renting this guy.

And, Darcy better watch herself the next time she's inside my Taco.
Taco Wrap


Frog of My Heart

Tonight, instead of issuing ~$200 in tickets and towing my dad's car, an officer took a picture of the Frog in my passenger seat. I think the wig really sealed the deal. I drove away, as I came, without my license or registration. And with one more illegal left turn under my belt. 


Drive-By DJ

I walk within range of Russ Brown's unprotected wireless network every morning on the way to the El. When he leaves his speakers on I try to give him something a little unexpected to listen to in the morning.