I like meat. I could never be a vegetarian because I enjoy my fried chicken a bit too much. I know that meat comes from animals, but there’s a sense of detachment that happens for me. Somewhere between the slaughterhouse and the butcher, the animal is turned into nice, saran-wrapped meat. If I don’t prepare it myself, then there’s an additional degree of separation. I don’t see cow. I see nice, braised steak on my plate. A steak doesn’t look anything like a cow. I can handle that.

Last night, we had some of the best fried catfish I’ve ever had in my life. It was in a tiny convenience store/grocery stop/restaurant in the middle of farmland in Mississippi. The farm trucks were piled in there and every table was full because this place was serving their famous Friday night fish special. I ate my fish happily and without any difficulty – because there were no heads or tails. No fins. No eyes to stare pathetically at me.

Then they set down the order of frog legs. Everyone else kept exclaiming that they were “so good.” I looked on the plate and saw little fried frog butts. It looked like they had cut Kermit off at the waist, dipped him in batter, and thrown him in the deep fryer. The animal source was definitely recognizable. At least they cut off the flippers. Still, that space that I like to keep between identifiable creature and tasty dish was annihilated.

Over in Central Asia I’ve eaten some weird things. I’ve eaten weed pie, octopus, eggplant and yogurt mash, and desserts made of shredded wheat. Tonight was too much. I left the funky fried frog butts alone.

On the way back, our route happened to take us through Mer Rouge. That’s right. Mer Rouge with the famous hot dogs. This time, I went ahead and ordered the footlong. Mmm Mmm Mmm! That’s definitely one meat product whose source is unidentifiable. When my father-in-law picked up our order, I noticed that the girl at the window was wearing a shirt that said “Was that an earthquake or did I just ROCK your world?” When he went back to pick up our hot fudge sundaes, he cracked a joke. The girl at the window that time, although she couldn’t have been over 25 years old, grinned and revealed that she didn’t have a tooth left in her head.

Classy establishment, unidentifiable meat. The Country Cream Hot Dog Stand may just be my food paradise.

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