There is enough beef waste in the US to fuel trains. Via The Guardian:
US rail operator Amtrak may have given the term “cattle car” a whole new meaning with the first test of a biodiesel train that runs on beef byproducts.
Operating on a $274,000 (£178,000) grant from the Federal Railroad Administration, the state-owned rail company has begun operating its daily Heartland Flyer train, travelling between Oklahoma City and Forth Worth, using B20 biodiesel fuel.
The fuel, which mixes 80 per cent diesel with 20 per cent biofuel, cuts both hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions by 10 per cent, according to the company, which said that the fuel also reduces particulates by 15 per cent and sulphates by 20 per cent compared to standard diesel fuels.
According to DirectFuels, makers of meat biodiesel, they’re “using blends of animal fats, but will be able to handle a range of feedstocks”.
I’m starting to become accustomed to the sense of betrayal that I feel after eating once again at old favourites in Melbourne. Most continue to please (or at least, meet expectations). But Mekong on Swanston Street in Melbourne, to use more common language, has gone to shit.
Well before I left Australia for Cambodia, Mekong on Swanston St was my reliable lunch joint. I’d worked my way through every offal-packed variation on their basic beef (bo) and chicken (ga). The stock was shining example of pho in Australia: both meaty (which is the key to Australian-style pho) and evenly spiced with star anise and cinnamon. Week to week, there was no variance. At a rough estimate, I would have spent between one and two thousand dollars at Mekong over the years.
It became my yardstick for a damn good bowl of phở; the sort of joint that you would recommend to newcomers to Melbourne to whet their appetite for the more challenging journey into suburban Vietnamese Food. Their staff had a vindictive shirtiness that was always refreshing. A friend often described one of their staff members as a “malign dwarf” but it came from a warm place in his heart.
But no more.
These days the pho at Mekong is like your average oil rig worker: big, meaty and covered in grease. The subtlety has disappeared; the serving sizes seem more gargantuan. The restaurant is still as packed as ever.
Also, the mention that “Bill Clinton had two bowls” is a lie. He ate two bowls at Pho 2000 in Saigon, Vietnam and has never set foot in Mekong in Melbourne. Unless he had two bowls sent up to him on one of speaking engagements in Melbourne, Bill Clinton did not eat two bowls of this particular pho.
Location: Mekong Restaurant, 241 Swanston St, Melbourne, Australia
A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with bio-artist Oron Catts which probably rates as one of the strangest I’ve ever had. I used the words “fetal bovine serum” far too often for somebody who writes about food. He spoke of his work as “semi-living” where I might have used the term “undead”. His art left me with the dissonant feelings of both complete repulsion and the obsessive desire to find out more.
So this week over at SBS, I take on ethicist Peter Singer and PETA regarding their support of laboratory-grown meat. Why not take on some big targets?
It’s as goddamn weird as food gets.