Minutiæ



Food11.14

Meet the Meat

by

Patrick Bril­lo is a broad man, heavy set with a wiry tuft of red hair. At 51, he’s equal parts man and myth. Dur­ing the 48 hours I spent at Meat N’ Greet, his café in Long­mont, CO, he ate six­teen times. Yet Bril­lo was not devour­ing his restaurant’s sig­na­ture dish — his award-win­ning three dol­lar a twice grilled cheese with caramelized onions, a thick slice of bacon, and a cup of toma­to basil soup with a squirt of lemon. Instead he was sat­is­fy­ing his appetite with dish­es from the back page of his menu, where the top reads “human.”

Brillo’s taste for the rare and ille­gal cui­sine of his fel­low man start­ed before he opened up his café, when he was work­ing at an Annie’s Pret­zel at Den­ver Inter­na­tion­al Air­port; a job that high­light­ed how insignif­i­cant peo­ple saw each oth­er. Every­one was in a rush, and pre­sumed an air of supe­ri­or­i­ty to the peo­ple around them. It made Patrick sick. He nev­er saw any­one give up any­thing for any­one else. The self­ish­ness tor­ment­ed him. He lost sleep over it and would just watch late night movies.

It was at that time that he saw a B-movie knock-off I’m Eat­ing Gilbert Grape. Patrick was intrigued, and sati­at­ed. He set out that night in his Nis­san Pathfind­er, look­ing for answers. To this day, Patrick can’t say what he thought he was going to find. After dri­ving around for 45 min­utes, he pulled into a park­ing lot near some ten­nis courts. Star­ing off into the mid­dle dis­tance, Patrick noticed some rustling. He got out of his car to get a bet­ter look, and that’s when he noticed crows cir­cling over head.

“I’d remem­bered a car­toon from the ear­ly 70s where an ani­mal died and birds cir­cled the car­cass.”

A lit­tle wor­ried, Patrick grabbed his phone, a flash­light, and a long two prong fork he had in his car from a BBQ and head­ed into the woods.

There in the dark, he found four coy­otes feast­ing on the flesh of a deceased home­less man.
“At first I didn’t know he was dead. I mean, I guess I did, because of the crows and the coy­otes, but when you see a body your first thought isn’t that it’s dead.”

Patrick brave­ly fend­ed off the coy­otes with his flash­light and fork and exam­ined the body.
“There wasn’t much left. Some rib meat and some ten­der­loin around the arms.”

Patrick poked at the body, con­firm­ing what he already knew. The man was dead. When Patrick attempt­ed to pull the fork away, it got caught on some of man’s loose fat. Patrick tugged and tugged and final­ly the fork came loose, toss­ing with it a sliv­er of meat. Mirac­u­lous­ly the meat flew direct­ly into Patrick’s mouth, and the fork, hav­ing been used at a BBQ ear­li­er that week fla­vored the meat with some sauce residue.

“That was it. The moment that morsel hit my mouth, I had an awak­en­ing,” says Bril­lo. “Eat­ing peo­ple gives pur­pose and appre­ci­a­tion to one anoth­er. And since I had worked a long day and been pestered by a fat man from Des Moines, I don’t know, his face popped into my head, and psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly I con­vinced myself I was eat­ing that slob. It was ret­ri­bu­tion and util­i­tar­i­an­ism at the same time. From that moment on, I knew I would com­mit to the idea of cre­at­ing the fan­ta­sy of eat­ing peo­ple, but not real­ly eat­ing peo­ple, because legal­ly speak­ing, right now at least, that’s super ille­gal.”

That sto­ry is on every menu in Mr. Brillo’s small wood­en shan­ty, not much big­ger than a Lin­coln Expe­di­tion, and I didn’t meet a per­son who didn’t know it by heart. “Sure it’s a skin crawl­ing tale to read dur­ing a meal,” says Car­ol Wen­wricky, a local res­i­dent, “But almost every­one will tell you it’s a small price to pay for a great grilled cheese.” She takes a bite of the leg­endary sand­wich and smiles. “Also,” says Wen­wricky, ”most peo­ple think Patrick killed that drifter and ate him.”

“I’m not an idiot,” Bril­lo says. “I know peo­ple like cheese and bacon, and to keep my doors open, I will hap­pi­ly cook sand­wich­es, but what I real­ly love, what I hope in my heart of hearts, is that my faux-flesh menu will take off.”

Faux-flesh is the brain­child cui­sine of Bril­lo. It’s food designed to taste like a human. His “Cyborg-er” is a ham steak almost uncooked with a salt­ed crispy cia­bat­ta soaked in pig’s blood, and topped with hair-thin cold noo­dles. “Well, it almost doesn’t sell at all,” says Bril­lo, “but it looks and feels remark­ably fleshy. Some­times, if I close my eyes, it’s almost like the real thing.”

Anoth­er infa­mous item is his “brHead Pud­ding.” It’s a bread pud­ding toast­ed on the out­side, creamy on the inside, with pock­ets of tapi­o­ca, and light­ly soaked in pig’s blood.

“I pret­ty much add pig’s blood to all of it. Peo­ple under­es­ti­mate the almost hyp­not­ic effect of a warm spread of pig blood. Plus, sweet human blood is ille­gal to buy.”

Patrick isn’t insane. In fact, he’s cap­ti­vat­ing, and giv­en the right podi­um, his ideas might just gain trac­tion.

“Look, I get it. It’s off-putting, sure. But once you con­sid­er that no per­son actu­al­ly died to make this meal, once you get beyond that, you can fan­ta­size that you’re bit­ing into your intel­lec­tu­al equal. Peo­ple don’t like the idea of imag­in­ing who their ‘Androidoulle Sausage’ was, but I say, ‘imag­ine away!’”
Patrick Bril­lo admits on a pure­ly sen­so­ry basis, the food is not par­tic­u­lar­ly appe­tiz­ing, but on a psy­cho­log­i­cal lev­el, “there’s noth­ing bet­ter than the feel­ing of devour­ing your bio­log­i­cal equal.” ✦