With just a few substitutions—like changing “person” to “preserved meat”—I could probably turn the theme song from The Courtship of Eddie’s Father into an ode to American charcuterie. We’ve just returned from a lakefront cabin on the outskirts of Montague, MI—where the view was Merriam-Webster baroque, totally “marked generally by use of complex forms, bold ornamentation & the juxtaposition of contrasting elements often conveying a sense of drama, movement & tension,”


as were the street signs,


as was the generosity of the company we kept, who kept in turn the wine flowing & the charcoal glowing for fat smoked sausages that I truly did consider my cuddly toys, my ups, my downs, my prides & joys. They


came from here,


as did the stash we acquired out of this case,


lined with big plastic jars of house-pickled eggs & brats & stacked with containers of beef & turkey jerky, 5 or 6 types each—among them honey, teriyaki, garlic pepper, Louisiana hot cajun & bourbon—as well as elk, venison & buffalo jerky, plus smoked local salmon & trout filets.

We went for this


& this,


both really mean if not necessarily lean. I had no idea dried beef could look or taste so much like a baby back rib, complete with cherry smoke.


As for the turkey, the fact that it was recognizable as white meat brushed with still-sticky barbecue sauce likewise struck me as a revelation


We polished off both bags on the road from Montague back to Detroit Metro Airport, leaving us with 1 last impulse purchase—or, as the case may be, freak accident—to deal with: