I know what you’re thinking. “An Odyssey of Meat”: Great gay-porn title. Sadly, no, that’s not what this is about.
It’s not easy for me to leave the kids, even for a couple of days, but sometimes an assignment pops up that I simply can’t refuse. Like this one: Find the best burger in the state of North Carolina. Sounds like a dream, right? But here’s the catch. Because of familial obligations (somebody has to feed the kids and make sure the TV is on for them all day) I only have 72 hours to do the sampling. My list of burgers to try has reached 25 and continues to grow. I’m not good at math, but that’s like an average of seven burgers a day. I know. I’ve got uptown problems.
Beef. It’s what’s for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. And snacks.
I’m in day two of this Meat Odyssey. Let me describe how it’s gone so far. Wake early, hit the treadmill, drive two hours to a diner in the middle of nowhere, eat a burger with cheese, chili, slaw, get back in the car to drive two hours to an uber-hip gourmet burger place where they put things I can’t even spell on top of their burgers, then run across the street to an old school bar that’s been doing burgers a certain way for 20 years, then back in the car for a two hour drive…
Today, I’ve had five burgers in as many hours. Or is it seven? I don’t know. I’m meat drunk. Dizzy and sluggish and confused. My fingertips are humming and my ears are hot. Is that the sign of a stroke? Am I having a meat stroke?
Much like Odysseus in The Odyssey, I too am learning some things about myself and the world during my journey through North Carolina’s finest cows.
Thing 1) The Black Keys offer the best soundtrack for eating burgers. Burgers are dirty (in a good way). The Black Keys are dirty (in a good way).
Thing 2) I sleep really well in hotel rooms. It could be the fact that I don’t have two three-year-olds waking me up at 2:30 in the a.m. because they want to watch Yogi Bear. But I’m going to say it’s the pillows.
Thing 3) Eating roughly 16 pounds of beef in 72 hours is just as difficult as it sounds. Here’s a metaphor for you: The burger odyssey is a lot like sex. If it goes on for too long, it starts to hurt.
Thing 4) While dining solo is calm and peaceful, sampling seven burgers a day in some of the state’s most unique restaurants and bars isn’t nearly as much fun without my wife and two kids, who would be emptying the salt shaker down their pants at each establishment. The kids do that, not my wife. In other words, I miss my family.
The real question throughout this journey is this: Was Socrates right? Is the key to happiness really moderation? Even eating burgers? I know that burgers are good, therefore a lot of burgers should be a lot of good. But I’m nervous. My belly has this hard, knotty consistency to it and I’ve been slightly nauseous since Burger #2. Will this journey have long-term health implications? Am I entering the Spirit World?
Oh, and my apologies to any Hindu readers of this blog. I’d suggest skipping this week’s entry, which you’ll find incredibly insensitive. My bad