So let’s talk about The Great Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells with Anne-Marie Ramo for a moment. Just got this book a couple of weeks ago, there is a new bookstore in town and cookbooks are the only physical books I still buy. I don’t trust my tablet in the kitchen with me, I just don’t. The cover price of the book is $40, but I didn’t pay that. I won’t tell you what I did pay, but suffice to say the cost was dear and some people will never be the same. One day, those poor people may learn to forgive.
It’s rare that you can look at the cover of the book and be able to think “I bet there isn’t a single vegan friendly recipe in there.” And yet, there are a couple of sauce recipes that fit that term, so there you go. As far as a book calling itself The Great anything, I am a believer in the old adage that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Well, the book is over 600 pages long, and has a range of recipes that go from simple little one pot meals to more complex things like home cured bacon and handmade sausage. This may just deserve the “Great” moniker. There are also a good amount of information on how to buy meat, which is something people take for granted. If you’re going to cook seriously at any level, you get to a point where you need to be selective, you need to know what cuts of meat look like, how they react to different cooking methods and so on. Even if you’re cooking vegetarian, one tomato is not as good as another and avocados are leather skinned beasts of mystery. There is more to this than simply grabbing meat and throwing it at the oven. You need to turn the oven on too.
Now, I have made goulash before, because I am a man of the world and have done many things. I won’t go into the many things right now, because there is a question of appropriate time and place. However, you can rest assured that I am a man who knows a hawk from a handsaw. I had not made it quite like this though, and I had not made the error I made this time before. The mistake still haunts me, to this day. One day, I will strip off my clothes and stand naked before The Gods and ask them to forgive this fallen shell of flesh, but it is not this day.
See, there is a thing in some cookbooks call The Optional Ingredient, and I have always said not going for what they put on the page is the act of a coward. I am a brave man, and thus I put the hot Hungarian paprika into the dish. And lo, I was brought low by my hubris and have been humbled. I put the spoonful into my mouth and Toyo-Uke-Bime herself appeared before me and demanded an explanation as to what exactly I had done. Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite that much, I mean… it was just a little too spicy. It was otherwise good, just a little too hot. Point is, you can skip the hot paprika and go for the normal stuff.
So let’s talk about those dumplings. There is a great quote about dumplings and I think it would be appropriate to share it here… “Real dumplings, proper dumplings when they are properly cooked to perfection, proper dumplings should not bounce!” — David Lister. I did not make proper dumplings. I had forgotten the face of my father and I overworked my dumpling batter. This time it was Hestia who turned up with a stern “Dude, what the hell?” because… dumplings are also water and flour… and thus bread? I don’t know. Listen, when you talk to them later, you can ask each of these gods why they chose to turn up and berate me for my cooking. So basically, they tasted pretty good, but my dumplings were stones that had super hot spicy stuff poured over them. Needless to say, it was not my finest hour, but I got by and lived to tell the tale.
And of course, if I hadn’t said anything, you would never know. Because it looks fantastic, and that’s all you’ll get on the internet. If you hung out with me, you could eat this sort of thing, but you don’t so you can’t. I am not responsible for your poor life choices.