The RestaurantMachu Picchu Charcoal Chicken and Grill 25 Union Sq
Somerville, MA 02143
(617) 623-7972 Yelp
The food and service were great, and the atmosphere was inviting. The chicken was so tender it almost disintegrated when it hit the tongue, and the tripe, beef hearts, and gizzards were all perfectly marinated and tasty.
Ché’s Take: Serial Beef
Innards make most people in America squeamish, more likely to remind of a horror movie than of dinner. To be honest, after this most recent meal, the idea of my stomach digesting something else’s stomach did seem, if not gross, then a little funny. We do eat innards, but usually when they wear a marketing disguise, like “natural casing,” or as part of regional cuisine, as in the case of chitlins.
The specific organs of this meal, tripe, gizzards, and heart, occupy an unusual place for organs in industrialized meat. Many organs have uses beyond eating, as described by the USDA in the Industrial Uses of Agricultural Materials Situation and Outlook Report. Stomach, heart, and gizzards never get mentioned, which makes sense because they are specialized muscles, producing no hormones. As such, they most likely end up as part of pet food. Why does America feed its pets food that humans could eat, on top of already feeding equally edible grain to cows instead of grazing them?
One reason behind the decision is the “interchangeable sameness” (to cop a phrase from Frankfurt School stalwart Theodor Adorno) of modern American cuisine as described in Eric Schlosser’s book Fast Food Nation. Schlosser notes “The key to a successful franchise, according to many texts on the subject, can be expressed in one word, ‘uniformity.’” In describing the business processes of McDonalds and other fast food franchises, this term, “uniformity,” occurs again and again. While he does describe the uniformity of the product, he neglects the “interchangeable sameness” of the animal’s very conception. Beef gets sold as hamburger, chicken as nuggets, and fish as fried patties. All of these foods focus the idea of each animal to an artificial vital essence, impossible to divide further. Tripe, gizzards, and heart, with their unique textures and flavors, conflict with the play dough nature of such processed foods, and so they cannot be part of what Schlosser describes as “the all American meal.” They may even be there in trace amounts, but if they are, they have been absorbed into the bio-mass of the patty or nugget, too small to ever recognize.
And Now A Word From Our Sponsor
Well…sort of. The YUM Card is a great way to save money at restaurants and support the Somerville community. The YUM card gives a 10% discount to any meal over $25 at participating restaurants in Somerville, such as Machu Picchu. They are also extremely affordable, costing only $12. All proceeds go to support the immigrant advocacy group, The Welcome Project.