In addition to being trendy, bone marrow and bone broth are nutrient-rich, even healing. Does that mean a drinking fad like bone luging could actually be good for you?
It’s certainly a fun story about how the Internet works in America: A Portland bartender and his buddies are getting tipsy at a nice restaurant one night. They order some bone marrow, and turn the leftovers into luges for consuming tequila shots. They photograph it. They tweet about it. And the bone luge now has its own tumblr, its own Facebook page, and mentions on New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix, a zillion food blogs, and ABC News.
“It’s kind of ridiculous how rapidly this is taking off,” says bartender, blogger and cocktail connoisseur Jacob Grier, co-mastermind of the original bone luge, which took place at Portland’s Laurelhurst Market in 2010. ”Before social media, one night’s drunken idea for a tequila shot didn’t transform into a national trend.”
Like breading, bone luging has meta-looped on itself, becoming an actual trend despite its roots as a joke (it even has a manifesto). Which begs the question: Is there any reason for bone luging other than absurdity’s sake? Grier says yes.
“Doing the Bone Luge from a freshly eaten marrow bone does add flavor to whatever you’re drinking and that can work surprisingly well, especially with fortified wines like sherry or madeira. There was an earlier cocktail trend called fat washing that involved infusing spirits with meat fat to impart flavor. This is kind of like an instant fat wash.”
Bone marrow itself is “the sort of thing that chefs love to serve and love to eat,” says Grier’s pal and Lush Angeles blogger Ron Dollete. “More and more restaurants opening are a cross between gastropub and full-on carnivore havens, and the bone marrow fits in nicely with those.”
Bone marrow is one of those highbrow contrarian foods beloved by the likes of Anthony Bourdain, urban foodies and journalists (what Dollete calls “the hipsterati in the media”). And it also carries with it a vague association as health food. Diet and fitness writer Mark Sisson writes that bone marrow is “the original primal brain food” and “deserves to be a kitchen staple.” Apparently it was a big boon in paleolithic diets because of its high nutrient density. Sisson writes:
Meat, or any animal product, really, is the best, densest source of fat-soluble vitamins around. Liver, heart, brains, ribeye are all prize cuts for their taste, their nutrition, and the various bioavailable micronutrients that come loaded in every delicious bite. Plus, marrow isn’t just static stuff inside the bones. It fulfills a role. It fulfills many roles, actually. It’s made of osteoblasts (which form bone cells using minerals), adipocytes (fat cells), fibroblasts (which form connective tissue), and osteoclasts (which are responsible for bone resorption). I was unable to obtain detailed info regarding the mineral/vitamin content of bone marrow, but if it’s involved in bone and connective tissue formation/resorption, there are probably some choice components that make consumption particularly advantageous.
The key word being probably.