It’s fair to say that the New American Cuisine is based on the ever charismatic goat cheese. We are eating our way through mountains of it. It is served warm with a flourish of baby lettuces. It is rolled in fruitwood ash and floated upon a sea-green virgin (olive oil). It is sliced into medallions and garnished with nasturtium petals.
Goat cheese turns up in omelettes. It is topping fancy pizzas. It is crumbled into pricey salads and molded onto crisp baguette slices to accompany ultra cool chardonnays.
It is not as though these darlings of the ultra chic crowd are particularly good for us. A single ounce of fresh goat cheese is choc-a-block with 82 calories, yet there is mounting evidence of our new enthusiasm for goat’s milk yogurt, goat’s milk ice cream, goat milk fudge, even, astonishingly – goat’s milk itself.
How odd it is that we swoon over this creamy, tangy cheese yet curl our lip at the notion of eating the meat of goat from whence it comes.
I’ve been wondering if the problem lies with the goat beards that are known as goatees? We have always been suspicious of beards on account of their connection with intellectuals and other dangerous subversives. Another clue to our disdain may stem from saddling them with the name “Billy Goat” and calling their offspring “Billy the Kid.” Billy – and Tom – as in Tom Cat, implies a tendency toward night prowling and the kind of lascivious behavior that leads to such wanton tendencies as begetting.
Naturally, thoughts about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ made me think that the image problem might have something to do with goat’s hooves, which you will have noticed, are cloven. No kidding; this anatomical anomaly, coupled with the dreaded horns mounted on their heads, leads to a worrisome comparison with the Devil, the Greek goat god Pan, satyrs and yet other symbols of bawdy badness, that have largely fallen from favor in the current if modified Puritan climate. And, of course, we all remember the Bible’s forecast of the Last Judgment, during which we will be separated into sheep and goats, and receive our long-term assignments accordingly.
There are 440 million goats in the world, but only in the Middle East and parts of the Mediterranean countries, are they swaddled in myrtle leaves and roasted on a spit. Cabrito, (the foreign name for goat), are eaten at Easter in some parts of Italy and in the Caribbean. Throughout the year, the people of West Africa gather together to eat goat stew to celebrate the birth of a baby.
Clearly, if goats are to become part of our new culinary heritage, they must be repositioned.
Congress, a body that tries to stay on top of things, recently took note of the plight of the downtrodden goat population and instituted National Dairy Goat Awareness Week. This act was promptly followed by the formation of the American Dairy Goat Association. Naturally, the association instantly published The Dairy Goat Journal. Before many more days passed, there was the naming of the Queen of the Goats–a pretty, blond girl, not a female goat. Simultaneously, a program to educate the public about the desirability quotient of goats was launched and a merry jingle and goat logo was created.
Livestock specialists at Texas A & I University, (the Lone Star State), are working to make goat meat an important new commodity. In 1991, a spokesperson for Texas A & I claimed that goat meat would be the fajita of the ‘90s. He said, “Goat meat is both lean and nutritious and is a food people like.” This voice in the wilderness seems, however to have been stilled, perhaps due to a lack of evidence to back up his assertion.
What the association’s awareness people want us to know is, vicious rumors to the contrary, goats absolutely never eat tin cans. (Though it cannot be denied that they appear to be attracted to the scent of the glue.) Nor should we be preoccupied with the demonstrable anti-social behavior of goats and certain stubborn senior citizens, who are referred to, (usually sotto voce), as stupid old goats.
The probable origin, of the phrase, “getting our goat,” is the French expression prendre le chè vre, meaning, “to take the milch goat.” This could well be a poor person’s sole source of food or livelihood.
Today the goat association would prefer that we cease to think of goats as a disagreeable, small-horned, ruminant animal and instead come to regard it in astrological terms
or as it pertains to the constellation of Capricorn.
Even so, I am pretty much convinced that goat meat could provide us with another fabulous fad to distract us from the current, hard economic times that threaten to engulf us.
The young superstar chefs are rapidly approaching middle age and urgently need to come up with something fresh to capture our attention. They could offer us roasted goat with octopus salad or maybe fricassee of stir-fried goat haunch with smoky chipotle and Armagnac-infused dried plums, (formerly known as prunes), or even goat tortellini with lemon grass and rhubarb crumble. The possibilities are infinite.
And there are the nutritionists to consider. Imagine if the nutritionists teamed up with the advertisers… Pretty soon, we would be urged to have an oat with our goat!
As I was thinking about goats, I had quite forgotten goats are also the source of MOhaiR and CASHmere, our softest, costliest wools. We could consider combining the ‘MO’ ‘R’ with the CASH. When this item appeared on the menu, we would cry out with one voice, “what we want is MO—R CASH!”