PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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The Jerky Inside Me

If you are what you eat, then I am what I crave: granola and yogurt; espresso; toasted multigrain bread with good olive oil; dark chocolate; cheese of every variety; rich red wine. I give into at least one of these cravings daily, enriching my life for about as long it takes to get the victuals across the tongue and into the stomach.

Other things I long for include a certain sporting activity of the leisurely sort, followed by an effervescent, chilled beverage (or three). This craving is the symptom of a middle-aged male affliction, in which the patient continually imagines being able to break 90 from the blue tees, and then requires solace when, inevitably, he doesn’t.

This past summer, I stopped for fuel on a trip back from Maine, and found myself inexplicably drawn to a packet of teriyaki-flavored jerky hanging on a hook in the snacks section. As I stared down this packet of jerky, I dreamed of what it would taste like, concluding that it would be similar to Slim Jim – a food I hankered for as a kid – but, somehow, even better. I surrendered, plunking down 5 or so dollars for the packaged meat. It was, unfortunately, a mostly dull experience, lacking in something (salt, maybe?).

Still, somewhere deep inside me, a jerky eater is waiting to emerge. If it does, I will have company: during a recent trip to my hometown for a funeral that coincided with my 30th high school reunion, an old friend divulged that he bought his son – an athletic character who sought out high-protein, low-fat nourishment – “a hundred fifty dollars’ worth of jerky.” The purchase included packages of venison jerky, wild boar jerky, and, for good measure, kangaroo jerky.

Perhaps my friend has gone jerky crazy, but I would point out that jerky consumption is on the rise; in fact, this past June 12th was declared to be “National Jerky Day” by Jack Link’s Beef Jerky. It’s entirely possible that, by the time next year’s Day of Jerky is announced, jerky will become a craving I regularly feed.

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