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view of Sugar Loaf and harbor
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; May 12, 2005

19 kinds of meat for a vegetarian

I became a vegetarian (soft-core; fish okay) 10 years ago. A few months before our trip, I started to convert slowly back to my old carnivorous ways. There were several reasons for this:
  1) A big part of experiencing a different culture is trying their food. In other words, I thought it would be a shame to miss out on things like Argentinean beef, Turkish kebabs, New Zealand lamb, and too many other foods to mention.
  2) I married into a big, food-happy Taiwanese family. If you’ve seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding you’ll understand my point. They’re neither fat nor Greek, but let's just say that my new aunties don’t quite understand why I wouldn’t want to eat meat.
  3) Bacon tastes good. (Not surprisingly, this is a common argument of folks switching back to the dark side.)

Anyways, on with the story. Over the first half of the trip I've slowly continued to increase my meat intake. By the time we arrived in South America, I figured I was pretty much fully converted; I think nothing of gobbling up a hamburger and I don't wince when pepperoni shows up on the pizza. With some urging from our visiting friends Jeremy and Hope, I decided I was ready to brave a traditional and (in)famous type of restaurant in Brazil called a churrascaria. For those of you that don't know, a churrascaria is a restaurant that specializes in meat – all kinds of meat in all types of preparations (slow-roasted, grilled, spit-fired, salt rubbed, sauteed etc). Sure, it's possible to get a salad, but really, you shouldn't bother. How it usually works is that you pay a fixed price and eat until you explode. But this is no mediocre buffet affair. Guys come around to your table with freshly cooked meat of all varieties imaginable on large metal skewers and carve you off a lean slice (or three) right at your table. The place we chose boasted 19 kinds of meat. Frankly, I can't even think of 19 kinds of meat, but Jeremy assured us that he could, so off we went to meat [sic] our doom.

From the moment you sit down, it's on. You have a little card next to your plate that is green on one side and red on the other. Leave it green-side up to keep eating and flip it to red when you've had enough (or just need a break). Otherwise, they keep coming by and tempting you with juicy-prime-this or bacon-wrapped-that. For some reason that can only be explained by something related to Y-chromosomes, Jer and I decided that we really should try all 19 kinds. Ugh. Just roll me out of here. Or better yet, remove me in a wheelbarrow, preferably one that has a drainage mechanism for my meat-sweats. The amount of blood required by my stomach denied my brain the ability to count past 15, but my companions assured me that we indeed achieved 19. Whoo-hoo. To celebrate, I think I'll have a carrot.

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