Saturday, November 01, 2014

Mystery Meat

Originally published in the Miami News-Record, October 5, 2014

We are a one income family and have been for most of our married life. Please don’t misunderstand – we aren’t living on one income because that’s all we need to live on; no, we live on one income because it’s our choice. We do without a lot of things in order to make it work. It’s not for everyone. Living frugally to the extreme isn’t easy and it’s not for everyone. Sometimes you just have to get creative and do the best you can. Sales are my best friend come menu-planning day and I take my shopping very seriously.

A few weeks ago the little grocery store near where we live had a great sale on fryer leg quarters. It was limit two and I wanted to get as many as I could before they went off sale. (Please don’t judge – it didn’t say “Limit two per household forever” or anything.) I picked up two and sent money with my oldest daughter to pick up two more when she got off work that night. I never thought that she didn’t know what a fryer leg quarter looked like, but later realized that at nearly 18 I guarantee you I didn’t know what they looked like either. I told her the price per pound and that they were in 10-pound bags, so they should be $6.80 a bag. She wrote all of that down along with “fryer leg quarters – CHICKEN” on a scrap of paper, tucked it into her purse with my $20 and headed to work.

That night around 9:30, she walked in the door with a rather large plastic bag of flat, frozen hunks of meat and a very upset look on her face. She held it out at arm’s length and asked, “Is this what you wanted?” I squinted at the contents and shook my head. Her shoulders slumped as she said, “I didn’t think so. But oh, let me tell you the story.” I gingerly took the bag of frozen meat pucks and inspected it, trying to not bust out in hysterical laughter only because I knew she was upset at not fulfilling her duties that night. She then told me how the nose-picking, slack-jawed hillbilly kid at the register stared at her blankly and said, “Uhm….yeah…..uh….I got no idear what y’all are talkin’ ‘bout. I don’t know ‘bout no fr’ar leg quotters,” to which my outspoken daughter then said, “Well then, I think maybe you should find me somebody who does.” The kid was still knuckle-deep in a nostril as he called for “someone from the back” who, coincidentally, had no idea what she was talking about either. He did, however, manage to dig up the bag of mystery meat and said, “I don’t know if this is what you want, but it’s only five dollars so….” and trailed off as if she should be pleased at the $1.80 price difference. She was not, but she was also tired and irritated.

One adventurous night a few weeks ago I decided to make the Mystery Meat for dinner. Abby took a picture of them and put it on Facebook. Several people commented, saying they wanted to throw up just looking at them. A few said we were crazy for eating them. A few tried to identify them. Turns out, they were backs. Chicken backs. *shudder* The family said they tasted good, but about an hour and a half after dinner we were all in the kitchen looking for a snack. Turns out, there just isn’t a whole lot of meat on a chicken’s back.

*Certain author liberties were taken with this story. There are no actual hillbillies working at the local grocery store. Nor were any noses picked during the incident in question. So says Abby. She might also be protecting her secret hillbilly boyfriend who bought up all my cheap fryer leg quarters. 

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