G: The (Carnivorous) Festival of Gravy
The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.
If you are going to eat an animal, it is considered important, in my house, to be respectful about it. Nothing should be wasted. Gravy is a serious but joyous rite, which we habitually celebrate for three consecutive days.
On the first day, while the oven scorches and the meat sputters, vegetables are pared, the peelings dropped to simmer in water. Skins of parsnips, turnips, carrots, onions and potatoes bounce around in a convection current, steam fills the small kitchen. Onion skin dyes the concoction dark brown. Strained out, the skins are shiny and slippery, slivery like little fishes.
This savoury dark water is held in a pan, to cook the peeled vegetables, to be mixed with the juice and fat from the sizzling roasting tin. Splashes of scolding water and tiny prickles of scorching fat decorate our forearms.
This is the basis for the first batch of gravy, of which some must be saved in a jug, cooled, and hidden in the fridge.
For day two, all left over bones, skin, entrails, bits of vegetables, anything not eaten (except the actual meat, that goes in a pie) is gathered into a large broad based pan, covered in water, placed on a low hob heat for hours; our stomachs grumble, the house smells delicious. Fat recovered from the roasting tray can be used to make rich pastry. The meat is carved into bite sizes. The simmered liquid becomes a gravy sauce for our fantastically anticipated pie.
Day three is rice or noodles day, to be cooked in all the bits of gravy saved, and if we are clever/lucky the very last of the meat scraps. Yesterday’s excess pastry makes today’s dough balls. Anything not consumed by us or Dog, is composted. We sit round the table, giggling; noodles are the best for this because they spatter on your chin and clothes (clumsiness with chopsticks contributes;) and sigh over what lovely food we’ve had, over the three days of feasting.