Friday, August 20, 2010

Raw Beef Disaster

Oh, the horror. Even this picture is going to haunt me. It will seriously be a miracle if I can get through writing this blog without dry heaving.

For my first Mexican recipe, I decided to use the pound of ground beef sitting in our refrigerator to make Diana Kennedy's Carne Cocida en Limon or Ground Meat Marinated in Lime Juice. When you're like me and pick a recipe based on the ingredients but leave out the tiny detail of actually reading the directions, you run into problems fairly often. After really reading the directions I realized that this was a meat dish that is similar to ceviche.

Ceviche, if you've never had it before, is a dish normally made out of fish, shrimp, or other seafood, none of which is cooked. It's marinated in citrus juice and left for hours so that the juices "cook" the seafood, and then you eat it with chips or tostadas. If you've had sushi, ceviche is no big stretch. I can eat raw fish any day of the week and won't get sick.

So I thought the same thing would happen with this dish. Apparently not. I stirred the juice of two limes into the meat and covered it with plastic wrap and let the bowl sit in the fridge for four hours to "cook". When I took the bowl out of the fridge, I was slightly horrified. The meat was sitting in a pool of raw meaty liquid that looked repulsive. I read the directions again in case there were instructions on what to do with this awful fluid, but, of course, there weren't any. So I decided to stir it all up. Each time I stirred the meat, however, it made a sloshy sound and tiny pieces of meat started caking to the sides of the bowl.

But I went against my better judgement and was optimistic. So I added the rest of the ingredients: chopped white onion and tomato, salt, pepper, and  four de-seeded and chopped Serrano peppers. Then I followed the instructions and let the bowl sit on the counter. I covered it with a cloth so that the annoying flies that always plague our kitchen in August wouldn't defile it further. Two hours later, I unveiled the disaster to find that it was, once again, sitting in a pool of meaty liquid.

By this time the meat actually looked cooked. But that liquid! I poured a little out but couldn't do much without the meat falling into the sink. So I stirred it again, trying to ignore the meaty cakiness on the sides of the bowl and not hearing the sloshing sound the meat made. I looked at it for a minute, trying to figure out if I really wanted to taste this thing or not. But I decided that I had to try it, and I ate all of what I spooned onto the plate below.

It actually didn't taste bad. It reminded me of a meaty guacamole, and as soon as that analogy was uttered from my lips I regretted saying it. A meaty guacamole? I love beef and even I think that doesn't sound appetizing.

Needless to say, a few hours later I wasn't feeling too well. I popped about four Tums and some of my prescribed pills, and after about twenty minutes I was feeling better. By this time I was getting ready to go down to my boyfriend Serrano's house for a few days, and my father started pestering me to take the awful beefy disaster with me.

I had put it in a tupperware container in the fridge, and when I looked at it again I wanted to vomit. The raw meaty liquid was back! It went halfway up the sides of the container! I closed the door and told him that I couldn't even look at it.

The next day I was feeling mostly better. At Serrano's house I had some leftover El Pollo Loco for lunch. Not one of my better ideas. Serrano had a commitment that evening, so I decided to go see Eat Pray Love by myself. As I was sitting in the theater I felt that awful feeling coming back. Years of a queasy stomach have taught me to know when I need to throw up--it's a little strange, I know. But I know when it's coming and can usually hold it until the time is right. But I sat there while the trailers ran and thought, "Oh my god, not now...." So I grabbed my purse and hoofed it to the bathroom. And out came the chicken.

I toughed it out during the movie, but I kept telling myself that if I really needed to, I could leave at any time. The worst part was the beginning, since there are so many eating scenes in Italy that suddenly made my stomach hurt again. By the time she got to India (where I've contracted some of my worst stomach bugs) I was feeling alright.

Serrano made me drink about half a bottle of Pepto Bismol when I got back to his house, and pretty soon I was feeling better. Since then I've been fine, but Mexican food is the last thing I want to eat right now. And that image of that raw liquid is still plaguing my mind.


Anonymous said...

Oh my...I must say that I agree with you. That didn't really look appealing. Yikes. Not sure where you got the recipe from but maybe next time you want to make something kind of unusual, do some internet research to see if there are any other similar recipes out there that people have commented on. At least it will give you a baseline and you can then figure out if it's worth the effort or what you want to change. Signed: Serano's Mom

Kajora Lovely said...

I think that's a really good idea. The recipe was from Diana Kennedy's cookbook The Essential Cuisines of Mexico but I'm not sure if she ever actually made it. Live and learn I guess. ha ha