A year or so back, in a US TV report of a pitched battle between rival Hells Angels gangs, held in some nameless, mid-Western, flea-bitten, side of the highway, pit-stop, the police office attending used these memorable words to describe the scene of carnage that unfolded in front of him, when he first arrived. We now use them here for everything.
And the arrival today of this paperback delight, recommended on Twitter by Thom Eagle (op.cit. around here quite often), all the way from the land of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, great, great food, maple syrup and the Trudeau dynasty, reminded me of this policeman’s words again.
The author, Australian born Jennifer McLagan, whose site is well worth a visit, has been described as
“perhaps the most idiosyncratic and underrated cookbook author of our time.”
and has written some fantastic books inc. “Fat“, “Bitter“, “Bones” and “Odd Bits“, so you know, straight off, exactly where her head is at. I first came across her writing in the book “Offal: Rejected and Reclaimed Food 2016: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food” where she’d contributed a chapter titled “Blood, Not So Simple“, the title, I imagine, an homage to the blood in the first Coen Brothers’ film.
This mini book — there’s only around 30 pages — nevertheless manages to cover a wide range of uses for blood, especially by not just sticking with the more obvious use in savoury dishes but — in an attempt to woo those of a more squeamish disposition esp. those white, Westerners to whom blood is still something that’s supposed to stay hidden inside things rather than as something that can and should be ingested and eaten — also using it in breads, sweets and even cocktails.
And thanks to her, I was reminded — having read this 40+ years ago, you’ll forgive me, I hope, that I’d long forgotten this detail — of an early description of the joys of blood pudding that came via Homer’s The Odyssey:
“Listen to me,” said Antinous, “there are some goats’ paunches down at the fire, which we have filled with blood and fat, and set aside for supper; he who is victorious and proves himself to be the better man shall have his pick of the lot; he shall be free of our table and we will not allow any other beggar about the house at all.”
And one last thing? Apparently Buddhist monks use their own blood to write (as Nepalese women, their own, plucked, hair to weave) to demonstrate their piety. There’s a long scholarly piece here, from last year, via Nature magazine.
The thanks for giving me that detail, go to Val but she’s not responsible for the subsequent ear-worm of
“If I could stick a knife in my heart
Suicide right on stage
Would it be enough for your teenage lust
Would it help to ease the pain?
Ease your brain?”
As a callow youth of just 17, I well remember the accompanying, laughably camp, “sailor suits in bubble bath” video…