Friday, August 12, 2011

Weak Sauce, Good Gravy

We've all been there, fellow food lovers.

You've been invited to dinner.  Maybe at a friend's home, perhaps at that new restaurant on the other side of town, or even just down to Aunt Mildred's for her annual Arbor Day bash.  The fateful night comes, and you arrive ready for a wonderful night of high spirits and good food.  Aunt Mildred mixes a surprisingly potent and delicious cocktail, the conversation is flowing, ambling here and there, topic to topic, as it does when cradled in the warm comfort of friends and family.  All is right with the world.

Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see it as the guests come to the table.  Instantly, the amygdala triggers a comlex series of events to deal with this sudden threat.  The world closes in as your focus grows hyper-sharp.  You can feel the sweat begin to run.  Capillaries constrict and your breathing speeds up, your heart rate increases as smooth muscle fibers contract.  Your pupils dilate as huge amounts of sugar are dumped into your system, giving you the energy to fight or flee.  In short, the afterburners have been lit.

This purely emotional response has evolved over millions of years.  Countless generations of your ancestors have lived or died by it.  The lucky few that lived, helped hone your involuntary reactions to the millisecond, until now, as if chosen by the hand of Darwin himself, you are able to stare this new evil in the face and survive.

Instant Gravy.  Oh, the humanity!

Powdered, canned, or otherwise thrown in the face of nature, fake gravy will be the downfall of our civilization.  Fake gravy and boy bands, that is.  Those among us who truly love it, often romanticize food.  The sights and smells, the wait, the great pleasure in taking it all in.  That's fine, but it's not always true.  Gnawing a mangled energy bar from the game pouch of a hunting vest while wiping sweat from your eyes is in no way sensuous.  It's fuel, nothing more, and it usually tastes like it.

Gravy is different.  Gravy is your first kiss.  It is the sirens song, calling you willingly to shipwreck.  It is her lusty laugh, the sparkle in her half-lidded eye, the hollow of her collarbone in flickering candlelight.  Gravy is sex.  So let's treat it as such.  With some respect and fun, and perhaps a couple too many servings on a weekend romp.

Most gravy begins with a piece of well roasted meat, now resting under foil, and the trivet of vegetables it was cooked on.  Period.  If I see you opening a packet or a can or a jar of gelatinous goo, I'm calling the cops.  You've got a gorgeous bed of roasted deliciousness in the bottom of that pan, replete with the drippings from your roasted protein, all golden brown and caramelized.  It's ambrosia bursting with flavor.  You'd rather dump water into a packet of seasonings some poor minimum-wage broom monkey swept up off the factory floor?  Seriously?  Roll up your damn sleeves, grab a whisk, and get in there.

Whether you chose to add add water, stock or wine makes little difference.  It matters to none at all if you chose to use a roux, a slurry, or simply reduce.  Mash the veggies through a strainer, or go quick and dirty and set them aside.  It's up to you.

Just please, put down the can opener, and live a little.

Venison meatloaf with a serious homemade gravy

And if I order biscuits and gravy one more time, only to be served that blinding white glue congealed to horrid canned biscuits, you'll see me on the evening news.

1 comment:

  1. But - gravy is hard, man. I keep trying though I regularly end up with yummy, albeit very runny, sauce instead. Jay once made biscuits and sausage gravy from scratch - and it was amazing. That is my goal.



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