Wednesday, July 14, 2010

America, Meet my Meat

Since my friend from Boston moved in with us in February, I have slowly been trying to introduce her to the intricacies of the ‘burbs. So I waited to expose her to one of the great suburban experiences, one I only discovered myself about two years ago when we went “up north” (because that’s what you do on weekends in Minnesota, people, you go “up north” to “cabins” that are often nicer than most people’s houses, have satellite TVs, and central air and heat) and I saw a sign for it in the bar window.

My exact words were “what on God’s green earth is a meat raffle?”

I was met with stunned silence. And then shocked expressions of “but, you grew up here.”

Apparently, my New Yorker parents didn’t feel the need to expose me to the wonder that is a meat raffle, and after having experienced it, well, let’s just say that will go in my own version of Mommy Dearest. No, she didn’t scream at me about wire hangers, but my mom DID fail to introduce me to the exciting world of meat raffles.

My first time was so much more than I ever dreamed. It was at church.

I got in just under the wire for the first drawing. I handed the lady my money and in return she handed me a lunch ticket.

I don’t care how many events I’ve been to where those are featured, they are lunch tickets to me. The little serial number on the side, the perforations from where they were carelessly ripped, it just brings me back. But in the present, it was time to draw the winner. And it was me!

So the woman takes me to a freezer truck that’s parked in the middle of the church tent (huh, I didn’t realize how weird that was until I wrote it. Freezer truck in a church tent), and opened it to reveal the most glorious assortment of meat I’ve ever seen. Gloriously free meat. And I have to choose which gloriously free meat I want.

I try to look over to Scott, but he’s just shaking his head and laughing. He totally talks to me like a four-year-old: “You bought the ticket, you can choose your prize!”

It reminded me of the Perkins restaurants we went to growing up, the ones that had the wishing well at the entrance where you could pick out a prize? Anyone? I almost always got the plastic jumping frogs, the one with the little tab on the butt that when you pressed, it jumps across the table?

Aaaaanyway…so basically what they do is saran wrap buttloads (that's a valid measurement of meat in the 'burbs, by the by) of meat together and Sophie’s Choice dictates you have to pick which 10 pounds of meat you wish to bring home after trading in your lunch ticket. I chose one with pork chops, bacon, ground beef, ground pork, and a pork tenderloin. Soooo much meat.

Then the worst thing happened…I was informed I wasn’t at a legit meat raffle! Because a legit meat raffle, you see, does not have a freezer truck. Or any form of keeping meat cold. Instead, I’m afraid to say, a legit meat raffle has all the carcass shavings laid out on the pool table like a botulism buffet.

But a few beers, and my judgment waned and I agreed to accompany my Boston friend to the fair of food poisoning. This time, at a legit meat raffle in a bar.

Allow me to set the scene (ignore the bad photography, considering how dark and dingy the bar was, I’m frigging Ansel Adams). Witness the whole turkey carcass on the left just sitting on the pool table, holding up a wing and screaming “pick me! Pick me!”

Then the people running the show spin a wheel:

I think we can safely call my cherry-breaking church experience beginner’s luck. Because there was NOTHING (I blame the fact that they didn’t use lunch tickets, clearly my luck is based on a red lunch ticket).

The table to the left of us won twice in a row, and we continued through four rounds (and incidentally, about 6 gin and tonics) getting nowhere. To the point where we paid this way:

I’m afraid my friend wasn’t very impressed, but as you know, I tend to get competitive the more I drink, and two-for-ones do nothing to quell my spirit.

Which may be why I passively/aggressively tried to dig for pennies to pay for the poor wheel-spinner who I am sure went to the CoinStar machine grumbling about that little drunk brown-haired girl who paid with loose change.

We plan to go again, I know my luck will change! I’ve got a piggy bank full of change just itching to see the light of day.

Does your town have any of its own weird customs? Are there things people are just shocked you go out and do?

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