Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Lean Meat”—Laura’s review
This took me wayyyy longer than it needed to, given that I had a good guess based on the title, but I couldn’t figure out how to get there. Let’s start with the theme entries:
- [16a: Hat for Holmes]: DEERSTALKER
- [52a: Extremely stupid]: PIG IGNORANT
- [10d: Tart fruits used for jams]: COWBERRIES*
- [27d: Painful thing to pull]: CALF MUSCLE
*Also known as lingonberries. If lingonberries are your jam, you can purchase lingonberry jam at [57a: World’s largest furniture retailer]: IKEA.
I knew it had something to do, clearly, with meat, given the title, and I thought the answer might be SEAR, given that the title is LEAN MEAT (same consonant/vowel pattern). But I could not for the life of me get the mechanism. Solving pal Gideon — who, coincidentally, won the mug last week:
DEER –> VENISON
PIG –> PORK
COW –> BEEF
CALF –> VEAL
All four associated words are figured diagonally in the grid, and lean in to their animal name at a crossing point. If you take the four letters where the words cross, you get, in grid order, S E A R, which is a verb used in cooking meat, and our answer. If you’ve ever wondered why the English word for the meat of the animal differs from the name of the animal (except for fish and chicken, natch), it likely has to do with, you guessed it, the Norman Conquest.