Wednesday, December 12, 2012
This entry comes with a warning. It contains graphic descriptions of meat eating. The subject matter may be disturbing to some readers. If you have any objection to the consuming of meat, please don't read. I am, in fact, not a big meat eater. I was a vegetarian for about 10 years, but that was a while ago. Now I mostly eat chicken or fish, but I don't describe myself as a semi vegetarian. I consume animal products. Every year, with the onset of cold weather and long nights, my thoughts turn to meat, and meat dishes. One thing I loved in South Africa was oxtail. Tender oxtail in a tasty sauce prepared by my mom. The name oxtail is self explanatory - it is, obviously, the tail of an ox, but for some idiotic reason I do not think of it as such. I had not eaten oxtail for many years, in fact, I forgot all about it. Some years ago my sister, brother-in-law and myself visited an uncle in Connecticut. He has a home in the country. It snowed. This is the type of weather which is completely unfamiliar to us. We reveled in it. My uncle prepared oxtail and at first smell happy childhood memories came to the fore. Since that visit, I make oxtail at least once every winter. I buy oxtail that is cut and sold in sealed plastic bags. One year I went to Ranch 99, the asian supermarket in Richmond, and on the spur of the moment decided that that night would be my once a year night to make oxtail. I went to the meat counter and a woman barked something incomprehensible. I asked whether they had oxtail. She nodded, walked away, and came back and handed me an oxtail over the counter. I nearly dropped dead. This was not neat pieces of meat in a plastic bag that bore no resemblance to anything. This was an oxtail! I blanched. What on earth did I think oxtail was? I absolutely could not handle that tail she was handing over to me. I made a chopping motion with my hand and she withdrew the tail, placed it on a wooden block, held a cleaver above her head and she chop-chop-chopped very quickly, and handed me the tail in a plastic bag. I bought it because I was too embarrassed not to buy it, but I could not bring myself to cook it. I gave the tail to a neighbor who had no such compunctions. She cooked and ate it and that year I did not partake of oxtail. However, that incident became a memory that soon faded and I began buying oxtail again, hermetically sealed. Last night was really cold, and I made an oxtail stew. Delicious.