I grew up eating very traditional food – tripe and onions, marrow bones, my mother’s Italian dishes and once, to my utter disgust, rabbit. As we grew older and everyone got busier, dinner was a more slapdash affair, but when I was a child Mom was at home and had time to lavish on meal preparation.
I found a butcher locally who sells tripe (up until then, I had been getting it from a butcher whenever I or my ex-boyfriend travelled up North) but they didn’t do marrow bones. To my delight, a butcher up the road who I spoke with the other day confirmed that he would have some in this week.
Now, I spent years as a vegetarian (my Mom would compromise by serving me chicken or fish, bless her) and it was only after I deveoped ME that the doctor said I needed to go back to eating meat, as my body was not absorbing enough of anything to help me. This was nothing to do with the vegetarian diet, but had everything to do with the way in which my body was behaving.
So I started eating small amounts of meat. I had always missed steak (which I like very, very rare) so started with that and worked my way round to other meat. S, my neighbour will be able to tell you that for ages I couldn’t stand anything with bones in it and only recently have I been able to eat a piece of roast chicken off the bone.
So my utter hankering after marrow bones came as a bit of a surprise. My mother used to get them still with the meat on them, and then braise them in a bit of oil and tomato paste before simmering them. The meat was very tasty and marrow was out-of-this-world delicious.
On my way back from my cat-sitting this morning, I popped in and yes, the butcher had kept a marrow bone for me. His definition made me pause (just one?). He was ever so pleased and engaged me in a long discussion about the death of traditional cooking before asking me whether I wanted it cut up. (Ah! it obviously comes off a larger piece of bone!) Yes please I said.
He disappeared into the back and came out happily waving the largest cow legbone I have ever seen. Devoid of meat, it looked like something stolen out of a grave. I suppressed a shudder and turned my head as he started gleefully sawing it up. He asked me how I was going to cook it and I explained. He said, oh I thought you were going to make stock out of it, as he waved the bits which I assumed were the joints around.
He then handed me the bloody bag (contents of which in no way resembled the succulent bones of my youth!), and said he would do a special price for me as he hadn’t sold one in ages. So for £1.50, I got a bag which consisted of loads of cut up bits of cow leg. Aarghh!!!
I dragged it back home, the bag bumping against my thigh and leaving bloody bag prints against my skirt.
Once home, the bag and I glared balefully at each other until I decided to put it in the freezer until I need beef stock!
I really missed my Mom today – (a) she could have bloody told me what she used in the recipe because clearly it isn’t what I thought it was and (b) she would have laughed like a drain at my dragging home bits of dead cow leg to relive my childhood!