If meat is murder then yesterday I went to “Zombie Land”.
**DISCLAIMER I am a meat eater. BUT I have nothing against vegetarians or a vegetarian lifestyle. In fact I usually only eat meat 1-2 times per week. Vegans on the other hand I just don’t understand. Please don’t misunderstand my comments. They are NOT political or ethical. Strictly observational, with a bit of irony**
In the centre of Athens there is the bazaar district. In it is located the main vegetable, meat and fish markets. Every Thursday I go particularly to the meat bazaar for a visit. I would like to say it is strictly for shopping. But like the Romans of old I am drawn to the colosseum in search of blood and entertainment. Outside the heat is stifling and oppressive, but as I enter the cavelike structure I am received by cool air and the acrid smell of blood and fat. Disgusted yet exhilarated, the relief of the cool air is quickly replaced by the crush of the mob of shoppers and the drone of the vendors. As my eyes adjust to the new surroundings, they are greeted by men in white coats wildly waving cleavers or beating them on the tree stumps that serve as chopping blocks. Every kind of creature “Nose to Tail”, now dead, is either hanging from hooks or placed in portable mausoleums carefully arranged for sale. Then it hits you, the noise, it’s not just the chopping or the crowd. But it is the thundering roar of the vendors. They are yelling all at the same time each trying to be heard above the other. It is like a verbal thunderstorm. A sick symphony of noise.
After being run over by a lady with a shopping trolley, I maneuver my way to a man I know that sells good cuts of beef. I point to the area of the carcass that I can recognize as the rib area and I tell him that I want two kilos. Off the hook comes the slab, WHACK, WHACK,WHACK, and before too long I have 6 pieces of something that resemble steaks. As if blindfolded in a labyrinth I make my way to buy what I thought was ground beef, only to realize later that it was beef+lamb. (I wondered why it was so cheap.) Finally I find an exit. Stumbling onto the street, blinded by the sun, I am once again introduced to fresh air.
So why do I go each week? What is it that I enjoy so much? Am I sick? (don’t answer that one) Is it the anticipation of meat to eat, or the rush of the experience like an extreme sport? I am left wondering if history will judge me as barbaric as we judge the Romans and their gladiatorial games.