Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cheapskates on TV bring out the foodie in me

I'm in ur face  tempting u 2 eat mah hedSo I had the TV on Tuesday night while I was cleaning the kitchen, which is never a good idea because if the show is any good, I get sucked into it, and if it's trainwrecky, I disturb the neighbors peace by yelling "OH NO YOU DID NOT JUST DO THAT."

It was a TLC show.  So you know.  It was pretty much going to be option b.  (I'm thinking I should just jettison the cable--I mean, the bundle was cheap during the first year, but it's not so cheap anymore and I'm more of a reader than TV watcher anyway.)

There was a show on called Extreme Cheapskates, and apparently it is now a series.  Some of the people did things that weren't that extreme, some of the things they did were extreme but laudable, and some was just, um, nasty.  I'm going to focus on the not-as-extreme-as-you'd-think bits, because TLC is notorious for tweaking their shows to highlight the more eccentric parts--and sometimes make the people they feature seem as trainwrecky or as weird as possible (and sometimes they just get weirdos and thank the TV Ratings God for his great blessing).

So, let's talk about goat heads.  Jeff Yeager, who's written books about frugality, went on a no-spend week with his wife.  The only money he can spend is the money he finds.  He wanted to cook a nice dinner that night, so he rode his bike into town (about 20 miles) and foraged for change around payphones, in laundromats (where he got dryer lint as kindling for his fireplace*) and in the booths of restaurants. He ended up with just over seven bucks, which seems like a little for so much work.  He then went to the butcher and bought two goat heads, which he prepared for a meal. 

Now Yeager himself confirmed that TLC encouraged him to do this as it would be more entertaining for the viewers.  He acknowledged in his article about the experience that he could have made a far less expensive meal with regular cuts of meat, with a vegetarian meal, and with stuff in his pantry and freezer, but his change-foraging field trip and adventure with the goat heads was a slightly exaggerated version of things he does.  (This is why I can't really go off on the people featured in these TLC shows anymore--they're painted to look trainwrecky for our entertainment/irritainment.) 

Yeager does eat animal organs and heads.  His reasoning is that if you're going to eat meat, it's the ethical thing to do to eat the entire animal, and I agree with this.  I looked at the goat heads and thought, Wow, I'll bet that's delicious* because I will try anything once except for a bug.  I've eaten stomach and tripe when I've had Korean barbecue and they're delicious.  I wish I liked the taste of heart and liver, but I just don't enjoy it.  I'm not grossed out by them because they're organ meats, I just don't like the taste.

There are a lot of places where goat is just another type of meat, and in a lot of countries it's just a matter of course that you'd eat every edible part. 

Also not that extreme--one woman foraged for wild plants to add to a salad.  I don't think that's weird, but I'd caution that you want to make sure you're doing it in a place that doesn't get treated to chemicals or pesticides.  But yes, I've actually seen dandelion greens in the supermarket, so I don't think picking them to eat is a terrible thing or even particularly extreme.  Then again, remember: I'm kind of a foodie.  I think a lot of edible wild plants and bitter greens are delicious.

* He said that dryer lint is great kindling and good fertilizer.  I would caution him and anyone else to keep in mind that some of that lint comes from polyester, acrylic, and rayon, which are not natural fibers, they are plastics.  So maybe you don't want to burn them or compost around plants you would eat.  Also, if you're trying to save money, you want to hang dry as much of your laundry as you can because using a dryer is a) expensive and b) wears out your clothes and linens faster (that lint is from them, after all).  I know he went to the laundromat to harvest the lint and forage for change but. . . well, yeah.

** I have had goat, though not goat's head yet. Goat tastes very similar to lamb. 


  1. I've eaten goat in Kenya before I was a vegetarian, and it is DELICIOUS! I swear it's the best meat I ever ate. Buuut the goats were running around the towns and they were just too cute to eat again!

  2. We were talking about this on a message board I post on and specifically talking about Jeff. Have you read his book? I was put off by some of the things he does.

  3. I haven't read his book, Belinda, though I'm familiar with him. Pretty much the money-saving/creative inspiration bible for me is The Tightwad Gazette. What things does he do that put you off? There were a few things he's mentioned on his site and on the show that were a turn-off for me (for example, pouring boxed wine into an empty bottle that held the expensive stuff--for the love of all things holy and profane, don't apologize for having boxed wine or being frugal or whatever.) I'll be touching on this next week. . .

    Bryallen, I agree goat is tasty! Though they are cute and if I ever had my hippie suburban dream of owning a house with a large sunny yard with a goat in the backyard, I'd probably feel a twinge of guilt.

  4. He states in his book that he will eat food that other people leave at a restaurant. He went to a pizza restaurant one time and this lady and her small son left a pizza with like 8 slices left, so he and his children went over there and ate what was left. But then, the lady came back in with her son. They had just went to the car to get something. Huge turn off for me.

    BTW, I love the TG too! :)

  5. Thats. . .wow. Rude and gross. There was a guy on that show who did something similar--I didn't write about him because I found I was getting ranty. If you're trying to save money, I dunno, I think maybe cooking and eating at home is better than taking someone else's leftovers in a restaurant.

    You know what I like about TG? Amy Dacyczyn shows the difference between being frugal and being a rude mooch.

  6. Exactly! Amy D explained the difference between the two very well. :)

  7. We have eaten lots of goat. When we had a milking herd, the nannies had to have babies so that they could produce milk and at least half of the babies would be male. So it was either cull them at birth or fatten them with the lambs for meat. We never gave them away to people who thought they were "cute" as it usually meant they spent a miserable life with someone who had neither the room nor the knowledge to keep them kindly. We used to cook the heads for the chickens to pick at !!
    Goat meat tastes just like lamb only less fatty.