a hurt so good
Pleasure, Pain and Existentialism: Desert Blend Jerky's Habanero Beef Jerky
There I was in my kitchen, staring a transparent plastic container full of walnuts.
Staring and thinking about it in an existential sense.
The simple group of nested objects was a remarkably simple sign that human civilization is, for the most part, far from being the hunter-gathers we once were, and we perhaps exist outside of our natural bounds. While nuts like the ones I was staring at (not a joke) were once staple foods of many hunter-gather societies, modern humans eat all sorts of permutations of food and do all manner of things that we were likely never meant to do.
Skip the scene ahead a few minutes, and the hunter-gather diet didn’t seem so bad to me. I began to wonder if I could eat some semblance of an ancient diet. What would I eat and carry with me if I were a nomadic hunter-gather, thousands of years ago? Yes, I would probably forage for nuts, but I would likely also carry dried food preserved for the journey--a form of jerky. This was a calming thought, one that brought my mind back to thoughts of a Sunday morning. I am no hunter-gatherer, but in the free time that I do not spend foraging for food, I sure do partake in eating beef jerky.
Springing from this thought, I added a trip to a particular roadside beef jerky stand to my day's agenda. For over five years, I’ve enjoyed the dried meats of Desert Blend, a dried meat/jerky purveyor that has pop-up stand on the shoulder of 360 northbound on the weekends. Its location changes slightly on occasion, but it always manages to be somewhere Mo-Pac and 183. While Desert Blend makes a variety of beef, buffalo and turkey jerky in flavors like teriyaki, cranberry pecan and jalapeño, they have a signature style of jerky and spice rub that is a must-try for any hunter-gatherer descendent.
Desert Blend’s Habanero Beef Jerky has some serious flavor and spice, dare I say duende. I’m salivating just thinking about it, like some weird food-porn pavlovian reaction. Desert Blend’s Habanero Beef Jerky has a taste that grows in flavor and intensity with each bite. It is made from real beef, dried with a special blend of spices without preservatives or MSG. The spice rub has Worcestershire sauce (molasses, anchovies and tamarind, amongst other ingredients), pineapple juice, brown sugar, garlic, other spices and the ever so important ground habanero, which helps to give it that flavor that is inseparable from its heat.
From the very first taste, there is a sharp capsaicin induced burn with each note. It is the type of thing that is both painful and pleasurable.
Since a chance encounter on the shoulder of 360 northbound between Mo-Pac and 183 years ago, I’ve been regularly paying for the pleasure and pain combination that comes from Desert Blend’s Habanero Beef Jerky. I’ve mail ordered the jerky for friends and family, to be met sometimes with interesting responses: “I thought you liked me, this was insane, it burned like [redacted].” I’ve seen people drink entire bottles of water and glasses of milk in reaction to biting off more than they can chew. However, the common thread--even among the people that can't quite take the heat — is always that the flavor is great (at least until they couldn’t take it any more).
When I get my hands on a bag, I can’t contain myself. At various times, I’ve soaked through shirt collars, hats and undershirts just eating this addictive food. People witnessing one of these moments may have thought I was dying, but it was just as close as food can get to la petite mort.
Do yourself a favor and remind your taste buds that they are alive and give them a little death in the form of Desert Blend’s Habanero Beef Jerky.
Desert Blend, P.O. Box 2086, Pflugerville, TX 78691
512-990-7000 or 800-97-JERKY