Where’s the Beef?

Yes, another Food post from the Official Non-Foodie in the family.

Since we’ve been here, we have attempted to try local cuisine embrace Spanish food.  Honestly, I’m not usually a big part of the we I just mentioned, but I do try a bite here and there.  There are times, however, that you want some “normal” food.  “What is normal food?” you ask.  Good question.  The answer can depend on our mood, but a good answer is:  hamburgers.

All the beef waiting to be bought.

And for hamburgers, what do you need?  You need buns, lettuce, onions, pickles, ketchup, and mustard.  And…hamburger meat.  And therein lies the problem.  We’ve had a tough time finding hamburger meat that doesn’t taste “funny”.  Not “funny like Alan” funny, but the “I hope I didn’t get food poisoning from that burger” kind of funny.  So far, the hamburger meat here has just not tasted right.  I theorized that maybe it was the diet of the cows, or the ranging habits of the cattle were different.  Hell…maybe Spanish cows don’t like Americans.  So we’re asking ourselves, “Where’s the Beef?

We were turned off of meat there for awhile, until we went to a store, and I did some investigation.  The “in-depth investigation” I did was just reading the label, but it turned out that reading the label is pretty important.  See, in the U.S., ground hamburger is graded by the fat content.  The lower the fat content, the more expensive, and consequently the redder the meat.  It’s always 100% beef, but it’s the fat content that may change.

So what kind of meat have you been eating?”  Another excellent question.  When I read the labels, I was shocked.  Shocked, and a little wigged-out to be honest.  In reading the fine print (in Spanish), I found that the beef we’ve been buying has not been 100% beef like we’re used to.  Here’s a small sample of what I found:


The first one shows 78% beef, water, soy protein, cornstarch, and…at first I thought it was Aroma of Meat.  I figured that would be a great cologne for men!  Or a new deodorant!  It’s really just meat flavor.  Back to the list…preservative (E-221).  E-1 through E-220 caused cancer in Spanish mice, but E-221 is A-OK!  It continues with sulfites, antioxidants, flavor enhancers, dye, and maybe some traces of milk (that was probably irradiated with Polonium 210 or something).  So my point is that there is a lot of Un-meat in the meat we were buying, and no wonder it tasted funny.

Here’s another example:

Beef (Vacuno)

We’re up to 80% meat on this one, and while it’s got less un-meat, it still has rice flour, vegetable fiber, and our old friend preservative E-221.

We almost purchased this one:

beef-3So even though it says “BURGER MEAT”, it’s got a picture of a cow and a pig.  So that means there’s even less beef in the meat.  What’s the percentage of cow and pig?  The percentages are 35% and 44%, respectively.  Breaking out the slide rule shows that’s 79%  meat product, 21% other stuff.

Well the good news is that we found some hamburger meat that was 100% cow.  Hooray!  The bad news is that it’s at an Eroski 20 miles away, and it’s very expensive!  Once we bought it, we got it home, and Heidi was quick to cook it up.  She brought out a bit for me to taste.  And I’ll admit that I put it in my mouth with some trepidation, but it tasted like normal hamburger should taste.  Another food quest conquered!  Now if we could only find pickles that Heidi likes…

Stay tuned for more cutting-edge food reporting on Wagoners Abroad.

10 thoughts on “Where’s the Beef?

  1. pickles coming next week!!! don’t know how i could get hamburger to you….think i would be stopped by customs….sorry, but will chocolate cake mix and frosting do?

  2. I’m impressed that the 100% beef meat tasted normal. I remember getting beef in Germany that was all meat, but still didn’t taste like the beef I was used to. I think the explanation (which we got by asking germans who had spent time in the US) of the differences had to do with aging, but I don’t remember the details.

    • Jan, We ran into the same thing when we lived in London. English meat tasted strange, Welsh beef was awful, but Angus beef was OK. Thanks for reading.

    • Jan, to be honest it isn’t 100% “normal” or same tasting, but pretty close. Either that or after 5 months without, we have forgotten what it tastes like. LOL

    • pejhan,

      Thanks for the comment. We don’t have a meat grinder, and I’m not sure where I’d find one, but I’ll look around. If I find one, and it’s not too expensive, perhaps the next Beef post will be about grinding our own meat.

      • Alan, your best strategy is to make friends with your local butcher. You can select your cuts, and your butcher will grind it for you… 100% real beef 🙂

        • Juan, we usually buy our meat at the big grocery store, but that’s a really good idea. So how do you say “Ground chuck” in Spanish? 🙂

          • We actually did try the beef from the butcher, but it was ternera (baby cow/veal) or something like that. They have all different kinds of beef based on age of cow. It is so confusing as it all looks the same (except those with pork or rice mixed in). Perhaps we will have the butcher grind the beef… oh this is funny.

Come on and tell us what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.