Olivia Storm

THERE'S STOCK, and then there's bone broth.

This particular type of broth—in which bones are boiled until they're literally stripped of every last essence—has come into vogue recently as a health tonic and cure-all... and it makes a bit more sense to me than those juice fasts. But I'm neither a chef nor a scientist, so feel free to sprinkle as much salty skepticism over the next few sentences as you desire.

Proponents of bone broth suggest it contains minerals that help make the body work properly—like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus—and all the collagen in those animal bones is good for hair, teeth, and nails. Joints, too, which is what made me specifically interested in trying it out. (Years of standing at indie-rock shows has not done these knees any favors.) Additionally, bone broth contains proline and glycine, amino acids that do important-sounding things like regulate salts, acids, and antioxidants within the body. Plus, it aids digestion and it's rumored to give the ol' immune system a shot in the... well, whatever part of the body the immune system lives in.

You can make it with any type of animal bones, and you can buy it ready-made, too. Cultured Caveman, which has three food carts around town and a restaurant in Kenton, makes a beef variety. From the downtown food cart (220 SW Stark), they'll serve it to you in a little eight-ounce coffee cup ($4), reheated from a large batch they make in pressure cookers with knuckle and femur bones. It's brown, waxy, and very meaty tasting, duh.

Salt, Fire, and Time (1630 SE 3rd) also makes a number of varieties of bone broth, from chicken to lamb to a special kind just for babies that includes cod liver oil, among other things. The large 35-ounce jars of their standard varieties run $18 a pop, and are a good way to test out different styles before committing to making your own. They do mail-order and Portland metro area delivery, too (saltfireandtime.com).

My first attempt at making bone broth went a little awry—I didn't cook the bones (turkey, in this case) for nearly long enough, and ended up with an unexceptional stock that wasn't good for much other than pouring over rice. But I'm also an idiot; everything I've read and heard makes it sound exceptionally easy, as long as you cook the fuck out of dem bones. Different recipes and sources say it takes anywhere from 12 to 36 hours, using either a stovetop stockpot, a slow cooker/crockpot, or even a pressure cooker, which accelerates the cooking time. It seems like one of those things that might take a jackass like me a couple of trial runs to find out what works best (extended cooking times don't jibe super well with my lifestyle, for instance) and what flavors you prefer.

As for actually slurping the stuff down, it's not half bad. It's super rich and salty, as you'd expect, and no substitute for the flavor of a really good bowl of soup—or a cup of coffee or tea, which some people compare it too, puzzlingly—but it's warm, easy to sip, and very filling. Any of the purported health benefits I've noticed would be anecdotal evidence at best, and while I'll stop short of saying it made me feel better, it definitely didn't make me feel worse. I'll definitely keep trying it; these knees need all the help they can get.