Monday, June 05, 2006

Religious War

A three point beginning divergence:

  1. Could there have been a better weekend to stay at home and play with the kids?
  2. I have my wife back! Her exam is done, she was happy (enough) about it, and last night we sat in the garden after the kids were abed with G&Ts and just talked! Bliss.
  3. I have a stonking headcold (for the second time this year (this is unusual (I am obviously near death))), this did its best to divert points one and two, but failed

Now, I’m a Canadian, in case anyone was in doubt. That means I worship the holy grill. BBQing is both an avocation and a holy requirement. Other nationalities believe they are amongst the blessed, but clearly are not. Now I might concede Aussies and Kiwis as being within the righteous, as I have partaken of the blessed sacrament in both lands which do justice to the holy rights. Yanks, forget it. They THINK they believe in the holy grill, but… they put things like hot dogs and preformed meat patties down and think that buys them into the chosen people (or they go to excess, like the Texans and grill anything that moves (heathens)). Just because they are the world’s only remaining super power does not mean they are always right.

Which brings me to the English. There is this quaint notion here that BBQing may only be performed upon charcoal. I mean, get with the future people. A proper (Canadian I might add) gas grill, with lava stone, or cast iron coals to catch the drips and turn them into smoke is far superior. If one believes in the wood smoke effect, then small chips can be cast under the grill to the same effect (Apple Wood is the best, I might add). Plus, its instant. Twist a knob, punch a button and away you go. I will happily waste time preparing the food, taking time out to ensure your cooking utensil is ready is just a waste.

Then… and this proves the catholic taint, they put poor quality sausages on the grill. This is apothecia of the highest order, worse than the American hot dog taint. A edible plastic tube filled with a bit of pork fat and vast quantities of sawdust rusk does not make one a BBQing nation. In this, I am willing to except pubs which roast whole suckling pigs or lambs. This small plots of reason are amongst the holy, but in my experience are the only exceptions.

It does sadden me to say that there is schism amongst the chosen people. Take my brother in law, he believes that the dry rub is superior to the marinade. Imagine! For those of you uninitiated, the dry rub method involved a mix of dried herbs and vegetables being rubbed into the meat and left for some time before grilling. Though I will concede it is not inedible, a properly prepared marinade is by far the most holy preparation.

I prefer a good red wine, such as an aged rioja. There are those (fools) who think only cheap wine should be use. This is foly! If it is not good enough to drink, you should not use it to cook with. Then, with the wine mix a bit of Soy Sauce, either Worchester or Mushroom Ketchup, with a large handful of sage and rosemary and a good grating of pepper. The meat should soak for at least 4 hours, and overnight is better.

I’ve had friends over who’ve complimented me on my “Mediterranean” cooking when they partake of a steak so prepared. Such friends are seldom welcomed back. Rosemary in particular has been used English cuisine as long as recipes have been written down. Though my use of Soy is a but suspect, the rest of the ingredients and quantities I found in a medieval recipe book a friend was translating (from middle French (it was an English recipe, just written by a Norman cook (I’ve had some odd friends in my life, but he was a keeper))).

The best quality of meat must be used mind. I source my steak carefully, and in the case of two of my dealers, the name of the cow is supplied with the meat (which is as it should be, a man should be introduced to what he eats). Good meat, prepared so will be so tender that a knife will cut it as if it where butter (and a knob of herb butter on top of a good steak does not go remiss as well).

However, to keep the family peace I recently gave in and experimented with a dry rub my Brother in Law had sent. It was a mix of dried garlic, tomato, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Not very authentic with the tomato in the mix, but acceptable. I rubbed it into the steaks (a rump cut for superior flavour, but aged and very very tender) a number of hours before dinner. Then, grilled quickly to medium rare and served with a potato and carrot mash, corn on the cob and some steamed spring cabbage (straight from the garden).

My experimental subjects ate it with far too much enthusiasm, but number one son wormed himself a little further into my heart (if such a thing is possible), when he turned to me and said “Very nice dad, but I liked it better last week” (marinaded lamb chops). The fact I had been grumbling about using a dry rub for the entire day I’m sure had nothing to do with it (nor the fact it was pocket money day). He’s a chip off the old block.


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