As barbecue season approaches, there is one thing on our minds – meat! But other than running to the grocery store or butcher, it is important to have a little knowledge about all the meat around the world. Now, it would be impossible to chronicle EVERYTHING the world eats, but here is a primer.
THE MOST POPULAR
The most popular meat in the world, pork is seen on dinner plates from Beijing to Berlin. Popular servings and cuts include the tenderloin, spareribs, roast loin, pork belly (bacon!), leg, fatback, jowl, shank, head and shoulder. Pig ears and feet are often used in some cuisines as well. Pork includes all cuts of pig, hog and wild boar.
Chicken is slowly becoming more popular and soon might surpass meat as the world’s most eaten meat. The poultry family includes chicken, as well as turkey, duck, goose, dove, pheasant, grouse, Guinea fowl, emu, ostrich, partridge, squab, pigeon, and quail. Chicken eggs are also the most popular eggs, though duck and quail eggs are widely consumed.
After poultry, beef is the most popular meat in American. Basic cuts come from the chuck, rib, loin sirloin, tenderloin, bottom sirloin, round, shank, flank, plate and brisket.
Lamb and goat are accessibly meats available around the world. Lamb chops and loin and mutton (older sheep) are more popular than goat, but are cut similarly – ribs, loin, leg, shoulder, neck and shank.
Venison was once a popular meat in the U.S., though it’s consumption is declining. Though available in some supermarkets, venison chuck, rib, round, shank and loin are all enjoyed.
Buffalo and bison are meats available in America. Though not incredibly common, they have become more popular the past twenty years. Though similar to the cuts of beef, they are much more difficult to butcher, and are often served in restaurants in steak and burger form.
Rabbit meat was once a popular game meat but it’s popularity has faded in the past fifty years. (Should we blame the Easter bunny?) The saddle (back), ribs, legs, and loin can be eaten.
RARELY FOUND MEATS
Bear is big game meat though it does is not often sold on store shelves. Tenderloin, ribs, legs and shoulders are all eaten.
Caribou, elk and moose (venison’s cousins) are also big game meats, and are eaten world-wide. Like bear, they require an expert butcher, and are often butchered immediately after being hunted.
Though vastly unpopular in the U.S. and Britain, horses are consumed in many parts of the world, China, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan and many part of Europe.
Turtle, frogs, alligator and snake meat are prevalent in the American South, Europe, Asia and Africa. While turtle, alligator and frogs (frog legs are popular in French and Asian cuisines) are wildly regarded and loved, snake meat has been the source of some controversy, due to safety issues.
Kangaroo is obviously most prevalent in places indigenous to the animal. It’s tail is not consumed, but ribs, shank, loin and shoulder are all eaten.
Though much less popular since the dawn of modern markets, squirrel and opossum were a perfectly acceptable meat at one time in the farmer’s age. Small game (like these and rabbit) would usually be hunted and butchered the same day
Monkey – especially monkey brains and hearts – are consumed in Cameroon, South America and China. Exceedingly rare in Europe and North America, they are a more controversial cuisine.
Invertebrate animals are consumed daily all over the world. Taking seafood out of the equation, snails are eaten in many, many culture, crickets are popular in Mexican cuisine, worms and larvae are consumed in the South Pacific, Mexico and in parts of Asia and Africa, and termites are a delicious snack in Ghana.
So no matter what you choose to eat (and what you choose to forego), remember to respect the animal, the culture and the preparation!