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In the rush to rename meats, L.A. gets the cruelest cut of all

April 08, 2013|By Adam Tschorn
  • The U.S. meat industry is revamping names for various cuts of beef and pork.
The U.S. meat industry is revamping names for various cuts of beef and pork. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

If you’re a hard-core carnivore like I am, you might well have gone to bed Sunday night dreaming of pork butt --  and awoke to find your brain pan full of "Boston roast."

That's because, as recently reported at our sister publication the Chicago Tribune, the pork people (National Pork Board) and the beef brain trust (Beef Checkoff Program) are in the process of renaming some 350 cuts of meat in an attempt to give the steak market a boost and brighten the outlook for pork’s future.

That means the once pedestrian pork top loin chop will be rechristened as something called a "New York chop" (traditional accompaniments include "Big Apple sauce," we presume), Boston is awarded naming rights to the aforementioned pork butt, and the Mile High City somehow makes the grade with the cut formerly known as a beef under blade boneless steak living to be eaten another day as a "Denver steak,"  which seems a bit piggish to me as the city is not only immortalized in breakfast omelets but the local landscape also lends its name a deep-fried delicacy called the Rocky Mountain oyster (let's just say that that’s what separates the bulls from the steers).

Although the proposed nomenclature includes plenty of cuts not named after major metropolitan areas, when the newly formed United States of Meat is giving shout-outs to the likes of St. Louis -- honored with a namesake cut of pork rib -- it makes this Los Angeles resident wonder why the City of Angels seems to have been trimmed out and discarded like a piece of excess fat. There is a good argument to be made that "L.A." might be appropriately applied to the largest, most artificially plumped, individually shrink-wrapped skinless, boneless chicken breasts on the market --  which would be fine but for the fact that the poultry people aren’t party to the current name tweaking (though it’s been reported that the veal vendors and the lamb lobby will eventually go through the same process).

The city's detractors might argue that because it's long been a destination for all manner of castoff, odd bit, spare part and otherwise uncategorizable parts of America, the city's namesake across the butcher's counter should be something like head cheese, scrapple or even the hot dog (which might just go a long way to explaining the never-ending line at Pink’s). But I think the city has an equal (if not better) claim to have its name applied to that slice of the beef creature that is the most pampered (make that tender), richest (in taste) and most expensive -- something along the lines of Wagyu beef filet mignon.

Will meat by any other name taste as sweet? Or is this just the meat market's way of putting lipstick on the pig (or appropriately renamed part thereof)? We won’t know for sure until this summer’s grilling season gets underway. In the meantime, all this ruminating over roasts has made me hungry enough to eat a … oh, never mind.

If all this meat madness has your tongue wagging, you’ve got a clever cut of your own to suggest, or you just want to roast what I’ve written, feel free to weigh in by posting in the comments below.

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