Early on, in the experimentation which ultimately resulted in Spike's Chicken Salad, I started testing a little bit of each incoming batch of meat on The Usual Crowd. Or rather, with Spike, his mother Sally, Mais Ouí and Annie, who were all here in 2003. Spike turned his nose up at more than one box of chicken, and though he took an extremely dim view of lamb or beef, he never rejected any pork. At first, I was simply aiming at finding the best ingredients to keep him healthy, so really catering to his taste, but when word got out that there were samples, I had to offer some to everyone. Soon, it became a useful habit, since it's a really fast way to find out if any of the meat isn't quite right. The first slice, the first spoonful from each ingredient as it comes through the grinder, the first taste of each mixed batch - all go first to the attending felines, second to the nearest dog.