Slow cookery

For the next three hours, I am low-boiling about four pounds of red meat. I obtained this from a local multiculture shop, which has a Newfoundlandish section. It came in a sealed plastic bucket, and was cheap. Inside: great manly chunks of brisket, labelled “naval salt beef.” (A memory of childhood.)

At least, it was traditionally called “beef” — in the olden time, when it was fed to sailors — though any other large bovid-looking creature would do. Or sheep, or swine; whatever gets in your way. A moose obstructing a highway. Some lost musk-oxen. An inattentive giraffe. Yak for the Tibetans (in the multiculture store’s next aisle). Whale meat for the Japanese and Icelanders.

Emus and ostriches are flightless birds. Horses run too fast. Bears get too angry.

They (the sailors) were impressed, though not in our modern, “wow!” sense. Read any old Hornblowing maritime yarn, and you are sure to come across this substance. Any meat would do for His Majesty’s unhired hands. It is surprising what one may be willing to eat, when the alternative is to swim a thousand nautical miles.

With this much boiling, any other beef cut would disintegrate into a stringy soup. For the beeves have no collar bones. Therefore they have very powerful muscles at the front, (intelligently) designed to carry the weight of a small car. I should think this renders the animal bulletproof from any fore-angle. But it has seldom been my practice pruriently to inquire how my dinner was slaughtered.

A lot of plain salt (to say nothing of the phosphates and nitrites) calls for a lot of water in the long hot bath, together with wonderfully absoptive root vegetables, beans, splitpeas, rice, and whatever comes to mind during the long wait. (Remember that dry legumes will expand when wet.) Food colouring might have been an idea for the bucket I purchased: to make the contents a more attractive shade of red. Bay leaves to be sure, but as I recall, herbs and spices were omitted in the Canadian Far East. (I put them in anyway.) Gaelic, or Garlic? It is an ancient cultural question.

I was intending to make this into some sort of Giant (if unHindoo) Curry; perhaps an industrial-scale pulao. But then I lost my nerve. My guests previously descried my glad hand with the chillies. (I use them to persecute my white supremacist friends.)

There was going to be a point to this Idlepost; I’ve just remembered what it was. Family. (And what tastes of home.) I have several friends with upwards of six children, and even without adding any more, these families continue to grow. Often it is argued, by the population control freaks, that children are too expensive to collect; that we ought to downsize our inventories of them, and the amount of carbon each is exhaling. Raise them on sushi and kale, perhaps, so they don’t get too robust.

But really, kids are less expensive to feed than parking meters, until they reach the juvenile delinquent stage. And by then you can put them to work — say, killing things for dinner.

Our much poorer ancestors had it all sorted out.

So have I, for Sunday lunch tomorrow.