After failed attempts to get my children to even look at pork heart or liver, I fed last year’s supply to the dog. Cleaning out the freezer this week, I found a beef heart. Please note, I grew up with a man who threw whole squirrels on our plates fresh from the frying pan. “That there’s some fine eatin,” he would say. I realize it is a small number of persons who can share my memories of plates around a table each containing a headless, but mostly intact squirrel carcass. Use your imagination and understand that I just couldn’t throw away that beef heart.
Some cultures would count it wisdom, eating the heart of fearless, Charger, the Holstein steer. Charger was named after a football team, but the name fit quite well. He went to the butcher ahead of schedule due to his proclivities for charging after whoever came into the field as well as refusing me exit from the barn one too many times.
In the back of my mind are the stories about all the research going on to get us to eat bugs someday. I question the number of us who would rather eat beetles than starve to death, but it makes the brave heart of Charger seem more appetizing. Not enough to get kids licking their lips though.
Subterfuge was obviously in order. After consideration, I selected chili. Big bowls of hearty beef chili with cornbread. Oldest son would throw fits if he knew. Instead, he had seconds. I imagined feeling a sense of satisfaction about frugal use of resources once I finally started preparing that heart. But that was nothing compared to the actual meal.
I work hard at my cooking. I care about variety, nutrition, presentation. Everything is as much homemade as I can get it. While some meals are met with gratitude, the response to others is somewhere between tepid and disdain. Perfectly good meals full of ingredients they all like are randomly met with staring and stirring. Bathroom trips are requested to unload pockets of food into the toilet. The dog is given innumerable numbers of carrots and small vegetables.
It takes it out of me to put so much effort into a meal, only to hear that the short people don’t think they’re in the mood for it. I don’t provide alternate meals. They eat what’s there or feel hungry. But them feeling hungry is really of no use to me. I can’t even see it.
So back to that heart. Chopped up in little pieces in that chili they were all swallowing. My goodness, I simply had not realized how deeply satisfying it would feel to watch them eat it. Knowing they would spit it across the room if they knew. Smiling, making pleasant conversation while they chewed. Even the next day, I find myself smiling. Knowing young Charger’s tongue sits waiting in my freezer for the next time I need a little pick me up on the justice front.