Well, I am more or less recovered from cheese and chicken mayhem and B being sick on Friday night. Had her in extreme discomfort and me (watching her, and worrying) trying for the underslept and braindead championships. Yeah, I know, I'm winning anyway. She seems fine now. So let me recap in more detail some of the bits I might want to remember.
Ok cheese – I am very fond of cheese (and spare me the man or a mouse comment ;-). I already know I am a rodent – or at least an ex-rhodent). About the only Australian product we didn't wax lyrical about was the cheese – there probably are good ones, but our small selection of the soft-ripening French-style ones (brie-camenbert sort of thing) consisted of the dull cardboard brick variety. Very useful for cardboard brick houses, not much of a positive addition to a slice of bread. I guess if that is what you are used to, you might like it. I've been told that there are some good Aus cheeses (some from King island I believe), but I need to win the lottery or at least do something more lucrative than write. Ergo – the thought – why can't we make our own? After all, Etruscsan peasants were doing it tens of centuries ago, even before the internet.
Hmm. I am now filled with new respect for those Etruscan peasants and had not been aware that digital watches and thermometers had been around so long. Warm curds (after the addition of rennet and culture-stuff you buy from little boutiques at opera houses and art galleries -- which explains all sorts of things – or if you want to be dull you can buy them freeze dried from the internet. I don't know what those poor Etruscans did.) have the texture of slightly glutinous black dam mud and feels much the same if a different colour. And warm. That creeped me out a bit. I kept expecting leeches. You then cut the curd to help the wey get away. There is way to much wey, and you weight it to waste awey... ahem. Anywey... anyway moving on. What struck me is how similar the early stages of this process are and how varied the end result. And how DULL the stuff in the middle part tastes. Oh and that Cheddar comes from a bloke near Bristol tossing his slabs of off milk into the gorge, and the furious bloke at the bottom hauling it out and tossing it back at him. Ok I made that bit up, but cheddaring is an amazingly labourious process of slapping slabs of curd on top of each other, and then hauling the bottom bit up and putting it on top. Etruscan peasants might have made cheese, but it has become quite precise and requires a lot of attention. Still, I reckon a decent camenbert style cheese is do-able, and Feta too. Don't know about the hard cheeses.
I battled a little (ok a lot) with with the chicken killing. “Pull the neck down and then up...”
Ok so we're doing neck yo-yo. And it's not happening. Bergen stepped in because we're both firm believers in quick clean merciful livestock killing. I will leave to your sordid imaginations the chicken drawing (it's where the cheese culture for art galleries comes from, maybe) except to say that violating a still warm dead chicken's tail end is over-rated. But I can do it. Might have to get an elephant gun for the killing though. As for plucking – is there a Mexican hairless equivalent of chicken? A lot more pragmatic information about chooks, roosters, breeds, and broody hens (look a bit like Lord Byron) which I will probably wish I could remember came my way. I fancy English game hens, I think.
Anyway I got my own back on Bergen with the de-boning (less than usual, he's handy) and we had lunch beside stalag bunny, where we learned to sex ducks by their quacks and curly tails, and how to tell when a chook was going to lay an egg.
B: “is that chicken all right? The one over there, cackling.”
C: “She's fine. Just getting ready to lay an egg.”
D: So that translates out of chicken to ' Give me an epidural, NOW!'
C: 'Medic! You should hear when there's a bunch of them laying. They all get in on the act, encouraging each other. 'Push Muriel, push!'
I wonder if they compare egg sizes?