Where to begin? Well I currently sit on a plane pondering this.
I have always had a love of eating meat. That has developed more and more with age and wisdom, and judging from some of my recent Christmas presents that my family gave me (for example: Hawksmoor At Home, an enthralling and, ahem, meaty read. If you’re so inclined), meat is quickly becoming an obsession.
However for me, that’s a good thing.
My love affair with ‘meat’ has slowly flourished over the years and progressed to the point where, late in 2011, I was standing looking at various meats and cuts of meat at my local butcher’s and I was talking to him about all things meat, much the same way a teenage girl might talk to a Kardashian if given that heavenly chance, or perhaps more apt, I was like a kid at Christmas. My much more intelligent and beautiful companion who was curiously watching this encounter said “you should try and eat a different meat every week”. Instantly I was intrigued. With some encouragement and refinement of this great idea I can safely say that I jumped on the prospect and it quickly formed into ‘eating one different meat each week for the entire year of 2012’.
Then more genius….
The suggestion came “you should blog about it”. That took more convincing, but in the end, why not? If I say I like to try new things then I should probably do just that.
And here I am, January 8 2012. I’m nervously planning something that I’ve been talking to my family about over the Christmas period and fielding different questions about many and varied things relating to the topic, for example- “So, you don’t really eat too many carbs right? What do you have your poached eggs on then?” I still can’t decide if that one was a genuine question or quite a smarmy problem find for me as I was poaching eggs. The answer being: on Ham, avocado and tomato, with homemade basil pesto. Who needs bread…
I have an outline and a list of animals and different parts of some of those (more common) animals that I intend to, well, eat. It’s pretty extensive and, I think at least, interesting. Many of these things I have very rarely or never tried, such as: camel, squab, buffalo, goose, thar, and lambs brains among others.
To say I was a fussy eater as a kid would be like saying it can get warm in the desert. I was a shit. I’ve definitely expanded my horizons and I enjoy trying new things these days (see above), outside of say, onions (A long story that has many layers, perhaps none more pertinent than my, at times, extreme stubbornness). However, I’m still fussy.
It’s just these days it’s mostly due to logical, well thought-out and well-researched reasons. Taste plays a massive part, obviously, but so does my health. I make food and general nutrition choices, largely, based on health benefits and risks. This, in my opinion and in the opinion of many people in the health and training world that I respect, has the most influential impact on health.
I’m sure I’ll get into that a bit more another time, but for now I will bring you the first weeks exploits:
I couldn’t decide what to start off with. Do I go for something safe on all fronts, purchasing, cooking and eating? Or, do I go fully or even slightly out there with the intention of inducing some creative writing on my part. Have to start with a bang right? Well in the end I thought- settle for somewhere in the middle, something I’ve never cooked before, but have eaten.
And that was duck. Not entirely strange, but certainly something I’ve never cooked before, or eaten a great deal to be honest. My first experience involved picking numerous shotgun pellets out of my mouth with each mouthful. This one, I can safely and proudly say was a world away from that. A much better world.
I have a few decent cookbooks that I like using on occasion, and I settled on a seasoned duck breast recipe by Jamie Oliver. I was keen to add in a duck liver pâté but my late run on purchasing ingredients meant no pâté for me. Still, I was inspired and excited. After listening to a song so energetic and inspirational about ducks that it would surely make a dead man dance with joy (check it out, seriously), I was into it.
Fighting off the heat of a humid Sydney night I got to scoring the skin and dousing with the required spices. In between fielding texts from my sister asking when she’d get to read this and an almighty storm that put some things on hold temporarily, I had some beautiful smelling duck cooking on the pan, some smashed sweet potatoes/kumera (a twist on another Jamie Oliver recipe) in the oven and a simple but delicious salad ready to go.
Having never cooked duck before, I was a touch nervous about over/under cooking it. As I can be anytime I cook meat. I like it to be perfect (hmm, this could be a tough year…). However a handy little known tip I have learnt over the years is, follow the recipe. Sounds hard I know, but once done, makes cooking and preparing your own fresh, healthy and nutritious food, stupidly easy. So I just did that.
A little time to rest, and a dressing of olive oil, mint, chilli and lemon to finish and I was eating what was very close to the best duck I’ve ever tasted.
A full belly and a satisfied smile, as well as a fellow diner whose endless superlatives and praise for the duck was satisfaction in itself, and I could rest easy that this little project had kicked off with a bang indeed.
Ducks, I own you. One down, 51 (at least) to go.
I’m not entirely sure what the Mayans were predicting for 2012 but I doubt they could’ve envisioned something quite so spectacular as a different kind of meat prepared, cooked (if necessary) and eaten each week consecutively for 52 weeks. An entire year. Thirty-one million, five-hundred and thirty-six thousand seconds. Then, to have those experiences shared with the world, in what will surely be at times a humorous, informative, educational and possibly… opinionated way.
If that doesn’t leave you excited then, umm, I hope the next 52 weeks will. I hope to inspire you to try some of these things, as well as look at your own health and how you approach your eating, training and living.
I just get excited about eating meat. And if you don’t then hopefully you will at least develop a passion for your health ’cause lets face it, in the end that’s all we’ve got, right?
Michael Anthony Campbell
Trainer and nutrition coach
Meat, food, training and overall health geek