Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why meat is yummy

Liquidity means easier access for both the owner and the thief.  People have more power when they carry around more cash, but they're also bigger targets for muggers.

Similarly, it seems that being able to use one's own fuel reserves more easily, means others being able to use them more easily as well.  Animals are delicious compared to plants because (a) they need quick access to their energy reserves -- and so those reserves are always standing by at the ready, available to anyone who might call upon them -- and (b) more generally their whole body is a dynamic system that must be able to react quickly to its surroundings, and is therefore more biochemically reactive in general.  From Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking:
The definitive characteristic of animals is the power to move the body...Almost as important to animals as their propulsive machinery is an energy supply compact enough that it doesn't weigh them down and impede their movement.  It turns out that fat packs twice as many calories into a given weight as carbohydrates do.  This is why mobile animals store up energy almost exclusively in fat, and unlike stationary plants, are rich rather than starchy.
and
Our taste buds in particular are designed to help us recognize and pursue important nutrients...Meat triggers all these tastes, because muscle cells are relatively fragile, and because they're biochemically very active.  The cells in a plant leaf or seed, by contrast, are protected by tough cell walls that prevent much of their contents from being freed by chewing, and their protein and starch are locked up in inert storage granules.  Meat is thus mouth-filling in a way that few plant foods are.
Interesting.  (Though this is not a complete story; for instance cows probably don't enjoy the taste of meat, yet the above does not quite separate their tastes from ours).

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