October 2009

From the Editor

My wife and I are expecting our first child in January. Like every guy, I’ve heard about the odd cravings a pregnant woman can have (crushed ice, olives, french fries dipped in vanilla ice cream), but Christy’s only unusual request up to now has been for hamburgers. This wouldn’t be odd, except that for eleven years she had identified herself as a vegetarian. (Or, to be technical, an ovo-lacto-vegetarian.) We’d get to the meat section at Your DeKalb Farmers Market and she’d hang back by the dairy, wrinkling her nose when I came back with a London broil or a pound of ground sirloin or a plastic tub crammed with spicy pork sausage. While I respected her dietary choices—made for political as well as nutritional reasons—I could never adopt them for myself. I grew up in a house full of hunters, and every fall we could expect a rabbit stew, maybe, or goose at Thanksgiving, or, most often, roasts of venison.

But I was hardly a meat gourmand. The truth is, whole parts of animals made me squirm. I’d pass on the heart, or the liver, or essentially anything that wasn’t a roast or a chop. I felt like a bit of a carnivore poseur, and figured that if I wanted to be a meat eater then I should go all the way.

So it was fortuitous when Bill Addison, our dining editor, invited me to join him at Abattoir, which he has named our restaurant of the year (page 79). He’d been there several times already, and I’d already read his review of it in last month’s issue. I went with some trepidation, knowing I’d have to face my squeamishness head-on. Abattoir, if you’re not familiar with it, embraces the “snout-to-tail” concept, which explains why a whole section of the menu is devoted to offal. I’ll leave the review to the professional, but I will say that when I walked out two hours later, I’d had one of the best meals in years. “Comfort food” is a fine expression, but I realized that with dining, as with everything else, the greatest rewards are usually found outside your comfort zone. Now if I could only get Christy to try the tripe stew.

Steve Fennessy