Meatheads | Bleader
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  • Jeremy van Bedijk
“It should be stated right up front that the Midwest, with its rich culture, stark natural beauty and superlative decency, quickly defies stereotypes,” A.G. Sulzberger wrote yesterday in the New York Times, which recently transferred him to its Kansas City bureau, whereupon he discovered: it’s hard out there for a vegetarian. This sentence is a puzzle—“decency” being, if nothing else, a sturdy stereotype of midwesterners, which they/we might more effectively “defy” by acting like total assholes—as is the whole article. “Meatless in the Midwest: A Tale of Survival” details Sulzberger’s struggles finding meatless food in meatful Missouri.

A few things:

1) The area Sulzberger covers, “the Midwest,” “stretches from Oklahoma to North Dakota,” he notes.Oklahoma? Are Illinois and Indiana covered by the Times’'s east-coast bureau? 2) Somebody tried to put lard, which Sulzberger's server didn't realize constituted "meat," in some pintos at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Kansas cattle country. Leaving aside the fact that everybody knows that refried beans frequently aren’t vegetarian, this anecdote seems mostly to the point of making an ignorant-waitress joke—these people eat meat even when they don’t think they’re eating meat! In the sense that it’s more embarrassing to the teller than the subject, this story is not unlike one that I once heard a relative tell, about a backwoods waitress who mispronounced “pinot noir.” 3) At a Kansas City restaurant Sulzberger can’t even order the fries, which are “lard-bathed.” Who’s heard of "lard-bathed" fries? That sounds awesome.

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