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Monday, March 23, 2009
I apologize in advance to Another Portland Blog's nonexistent vegetarian readership for the following post.
The Portland Farmers Market opened for the season on Saturday and, along with roughly 65% of everyone else living in the city, I went down there in search of locally-produced consumables. Instead of the organic fruits and vegetables that filled most of the booths I was looking for something else. Something that doesn't grow on trees or bushes. Something that was once covered in fur and probably went "moo" or "snarf" or "blargh" or.....
.....ok, what kind of a sound does a yak make?
I was on a hunt for yak meat (and flowers because it was my mom's birthday. I went with tulips. Hi, Mom).
I asked someone at the information booth and they gave me a funny look, as if to say, "Son, you wouldn't know what to do with yak meat if it was all they sold at your friendly, neighborhood Fred Meyer." He finally shrugged and told me to go ask the "buffalo guys."
Yes, the Portland Farmers Market has "buffalo guys." I had to roam through over a hundred booths before I found the one operated by the Pine Mountain Ranch. They deal primarily in buffalo products. I waited patiently in line behind someone who seemed downright crestfallen to learn that they were not only all sold out of buffalo liver but buffalo hearts and tongues as well.
I may have been tempted to buy a buffalo heart if they'd had any in stock but I settled on what I'd come to the market for: authentic ground yak meat. I told one of the guys working the booth that I was planning to use it in spaghetti sauce and he told me I'd be better off using Italian yak sausage. I went with that instead.
Yak meat doesn't come cheap. I paid $10.94 for a single pound. I tossed it in a pan on Sunday night and it was fairly difficult to work with. It's sort of dry and doesn't mash-up as easily as regular beef. But to answer the question that I'm sure is on your mind: what does it taste like? The flavor falls somewhere between buffalo and venison. Like most semi-exotic meats, it's got a bit of that whole "gamey" thing going on.
Once I tossed the meat into a pot with a batch of sauteed vegetables and a few jars of Newman's Vodka Spaghetti Sauce I couldn't taste much of a difference between yak and plain, old, boring ground beef. Honestly, I feel like I wasted the stuff. I should have made yak burgers instead.
Now just one question remains: what would buffalo heart spaghetti taste like? To the farmer's market!