Friday, February 08, 2013

Adventures in omnivory

So the resolution to write a blog post at least once a week has gone a bit wobbly already. Maybe that was too much to expect, though there are posts forming in my head all the time, the way they used to, so possibly it's about finding new ways to catch them as they are forming, before they slip away. As for Sober January... well, I have a bit of a hangover this morning [that was 31 Jan], so go figure. But I think there have been 25 sober days this month, so I shall put that in my pipe and smoke it. 

The meat eating on the other hand is going swimmingly. Here is all the meat I have eaten: 

  1. The chicken livers. I ordered these in the restaurant of the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool with M, Plumbing S and small T. It was overall such a surreal experience that I almost forgot about it. The livers were good -- we had them on melba toast. I remember them from working in a fancy restaurant in Lytham when I was a teenager. I was already a vegetarian, but I diidn't mind dealing with the chicken livers.
  2. Lambs liver the first. It came in a packet from Abel and Cole. It originally came from a lamb on a farm in Gloucestershire. How cheap is lamb's liver?? Amazingly cheap. M coated it in flour and mustard powder and fried it, and we had it with mashed potato and savoy cabbage. And a nice Chianti (this was in Drunk December). I liked it, but I did think it was a bit dry. And I did spend a lot of time thinking 'hmm, this is an animal, how do I feel about that?'. 
  3. The free range pork pie. This came from Booths. I forget where the pig came from but it did say. It was not at all cheap, but I wanted to be sure I was buying pork of good provenance. It was absolutely a hundred percent amazing. I had my half with Branston pickle. I could eat a free range pork pie every day, but I suspect this is not a good idea. 
  4. The slice of salami. This was in the fridge ... M had bought it from Booths. Originally from Italy. Salami is something I used to love as a child, and I had high hopes, but it was a bit disappointing. Also I didn't know anything about the pig, so I felt bad. 
  5. Lambs liver the second. This came from the local butcher. I suspect this is where we should buy meat, but I am a bit shy of asking him about where it comes from in case he thinks I am a middle class hippie. But for now I'm assuming it's local -- it was the sheep on the hills round here that got me thinking about meat in the first place. That and the vegans. M cooked liver the second in the same way as liver the first, but with my leftover reduced onion soup as gravy. It was superb. I also came away with a leaflet titled 'It's all about offal'. 
  6. The lamb rogan josh. I read the all about offal leaflet and decided that oxtail would be a good thing to try (I have fond memories of oxtail soup from a bed & breakfast we stayed at in Whitley Bay in 1979). We went back to the butcher's to get one but he didn't have any in. So we looked at what was there and bought some lamb pieces, which M made into a rogan josh from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe. It was fabulous -- I'd never eaten lamb curry in my life and it's the business, tasty, spicy, all the good things. Though I'd say it was a bit too much meat for me... I enjoyed the leftovers the next day just as much if not more, mixed in with fried rice and vegetables.
  7. The partridge soup. There was a Meat & Fish Eaters Night in Ecoville -- da-da-DAH! The worms are turning! Unfortunately I was at my parents and couldn't be there, but I knew the plan was roast lamb and fish pie. But when A went to buy the lamb from the market she found out that local lamb isn't in season. What's in season is partridge. So she bought a bunch (I think technically a brace) of them, and roasted them instead. I suppose it's obvious that lamb's not in season, but that does beg the question where does our local butcher get his lamb? I leave that mystery for another day. Anyway, I missed the roast partridge, which I didn't mind so much as I'm still not sure how good I'd be with all the bones and business, but there were carcasses, so there was soup. And it was interesting. I think it could have done with some vegetables in it, but it sure tasted of bird.
  8. Lambs liver the third. This was in Fashionable East London, Dalston to be precise, the Stone Cave Turkish Restaurant to be exact. We were eating mezze before heading to Cafe Oto to see some experimental music. All good. Now, I clearly know nothing of the provenance of the meat in the Stone Cave, so arguably it has no place in my new Dead Animal Lexicon. But it's Turkish mezze where all this started -- back in the days when I used to get howlingly premenstrual, I would want to go for mezze with someone likely to order the fried liver (M, or plumbing S) and steal a bit off their plate.It was good. It was very, very good. Oh yeah. 
  9. The spaghetti carbonara. Well this was interesting. We have a great recipe for smoked tofu carbonara, or carbonararara as it was known in M's previous life. I love smoked tofu carbonararara. But he picked up some pancetta in M&S. From 'assured farms in Italy'. I'm a sucker for brand loyalty, and I looked at their pictures of happy British Plan A pigs on the wall and thought, well, it's probably fine. It was very tasty. I could get a taste for pancetta, I'm pretty sure of that. But I'd probably want to find some that was from closer to home. And if smoked tofu remains easy to come by (which seems likely in Ecoville) I feel it may win the day.
  10. The spaghetti bolognese. This should have been devilled kidneys, which I ordered from Abel & Cole, but they were out of stock. So we went to the butcher to see if *he* had any, and he only had two. M said this wasn't enough, so we bought some minced beef instead. 'I tell you what I do have, though,' said the butcher, and he went in the back and came back with an oxtail. We were so impressed he'd remembered that we bought that as well. That went in the fridge for another day, and that night we had spag bol. This is something that my mum *did* used to make, back in the day, and I remember being sent to the butcher to buy the mince for it. I like to think I make a pretty good quorn bolognaise, but I have to say the real thing tasted v v g too. Smoother, somehow. More integrated. But it didn't taste that meaty. I didn't think, yay, must always have meat on my spaghetti. But I did think, hmm, wonder what that would taste like in a lasagne.
  11. Lambs liver the fourth. This was unplanned. We semi-spontaneously booked a car and drove over to Ingleton to see N & D and their girls, who were staying in a camping barn there for the weekend with a bunch of their friends. We'd sort of imagined we would eat with them but we hadn't made any plans, and it turned out they were all (about 20 of them) going to the local pub for dinner. They were happy to add us on but everyone had pre-ordered, and when I looked at the menu the vegetarian options looked pretty stodgy, as is so often the case in your small town pub. But they had liver with madeira and mushroom sauce and mashed potato. You know what, I said, I think I'll have that. Me too, said M. 'Two livers!' we called over to the guy on the phone to the pub. He said 'I like your style'. And I thought, oh no, I like being a meat eater now. It was delicious, as well, but there was way too much of it. I'd have gladly swapped half of it for a heap of kale. I like being a vegetable eater too.
The oxtail stew awaits tomorrow. We were going to have it on Sunday but that would have been meat three days in a row, and that's not what this is all about. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to it. My dad asked me if being harangued by vegans had turned me into a meat eater out of stubborness, and I raised my eyebrows and said 'Possibly. Would that remind you of anyone?'. Which made him laugh, which isn't the commonest thing in the world at the moment, so I was happy. And if I'm honest, there's some truth in it -- there's nothing I hate more than being told what to think, and parts of the Great Cohousing Food Wars of 2012 came with the kind of sanctimonious overtones that made me want to run screaming to the nearest McDonald's just to make a point.

But I do try not to cut off my nose to spite my face, and it's closer to the truth to say that really what happened is I gave the whole Food Issue a great deal of thought, as a result of above-mentioned Food Wars, and came down in a different place to the one I had been in before. I now appear to be a flexitarian -- which is slightly annoying, as that's bang on trend. I hate being bang on trend. But I do like liver.


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Blogger Duncan said...

Great that you're eating the less common bits such as liver and oxtail. I think it's important that if you're going to eat meat you treat all of it with respect and that includes the more challenging parts of the animal.

Lamb isn't really in season at the moment, but if you can find them I believe hogget and mutton are.

If you really want to know the provenance of your meat, I keep eyeing who will supply whole wild deer (currently Muntjac, Roe, or Fallow) which come with a certificate telling you who shot it, where and when. Some day soon I'm going to have to buy one.

9:30 am  
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8:04 am  
OpenID jinty said...

Ha ha! I love the extraneous bland compliments with utterly unrelated linkspam.

I found oxtail to be a bit gluey when I tried it; would be interested to hear what recipe you used if you produce a successful dish with it. Mind you, I've never fancied / tried offal so it's possible it's down to my tastebuds / inclinations.

I like using a bit of bacon or pancetta to just flavour a stew or dish, rather than necessarily making it very meaty. Works very well with green lentils I think.

10:56 am  
Blogger Jo said...

Yes I am attracting some excellent linkspam. I deleted the anonymous person telling me I was self-aggrandising and should get a life, but otherwise, bring it on!

The oxtail saw us through three meals, but the original recipe was a Hugh F-W one, this one I believe: It wasn't that gluey, but the first time it *was* a bit much, certainly for a beginner. Then we got rid of some of the fat and turned the rest into a stew with carrots, celeriac, celery etc, which was delicious, and then I blitzed the leftover leftovers to make soup. I'd go there again but maybe not every week :)

9:27 pm  

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