Thursday, 17 January 2013

It's a monochrome world...

.....and other thoughts on a cold morning (minus 6).

I was persuaded to walk with the farmer and Tess after lunch yesterday.   I didn't really want to go but how pleased I was that I did.   It was very still and very quiet - not a bird to be seen and, although walking in the pasture was quite hard, I felt so much better for my half hour in the fresh air.

I took the picture from just above the holly and hawthorn cam (a local word meaning old hedge that has half-disappeared!) and apart from a streak of ice-blue in that sky, the world is in monochrome.   I think it is Nature's way of emphasising the colour when it does arrive - think daffodils, tulips, lilac, anemones - need I go on?  Actually, if you looked closely at the hazel in the hedge, it was just beginning to show yellow on the catkins.   But this morning there is almost a hoar frost and everythings is white.

Thirteen blackbirds were waiting by the bird feeders and every vestige of food we put out yesterday had disappeared - mixed seed, sunflower hearts, niger seed, peanuts, chopped apple, suet, raisins, fat balls - all gone.   But it is satisfying to know that we are sustaining so many of our garden birds through this cold snap.

What a to do (and rightly so) about horsemeat being found in the cheapest burgers in our supermarkets?   I suspect that if we knew half of what goes on with the production of our food we would be very wary of what we buy.

I have eaten horsemeat once (to my knowledge) and I can tell you that it tastes very similar to beef.   It was in Khazakstan about twenty five years ago.   We had dinner in a local restaurant and the meat was served, sliced, on the plate.   It was in thin, very lean slices and was quite like beef to look out but perhaps a little darker in colour.   It was served with a help-yourself wine sauce and was delicious.   Afterwards, somebody asked our guide (in those days there was no way you could walk round places in what was then the Soviet Union without a minder) and she went and asked and told us it was "mare".   There was a bit of a stunned silence but then everyone agreed it was tasty.

I do remember a horse meat butchers in Lincoln during the war.   It was on a street where we walked regularly and the window was full of cuts of meat.   My mother would avert her eyes but as a small child I was always fascinated by it - mainly because the fat was such a bright yellow.

That story reminds me of another holiday in China and Mongolia, when we went on two successive nights to the same restaurant.   The first night a group of local men were gathered round a large pot of something which smelt lovely, while we had what passed for Westernised food (usually pretty awful).   We asked if we could have what these men were having the next night and it was duly served up and really enjoyed.   When we asked Mr Yuan our guide what was in the dish he answered (in his very strongly accented English) with a word which sounded like "eyeballs" - we all visibly paled until we were made to understand that he was saying "apples".

We are just off to Tesco to stock up again as heavy snow is forecast for tomorrow -must watch out what I buy and steer clear of the 'beefburgers'! Keep snug and warm.   

16 comments:

Crafty Green Poet said...

Your stories of strange foods abroad reminds me of the mice sold on sticks in Malawian bus stations (which I never tried) and the numerous weird looking fruits that I never found out the names of but did enjoy eating....

Thanks for your comment on my blog about waxwings, there are a lot of them in and around Edinburgh, but they're very elusive, I had a wonderful sighting near the beginning of the winter, but none so far this year

Dave King said...

Yes, there's been such a brouhaha about this, as though eating horse meat was unthinkable, yet we export live horses for meat to a number of countries including Italy and Belgum.

As always, a fascinating post.

George said...

By all means, Pat, stay away from those horseburgers and stick with the apples or "eye balls" Enjoy the snow; it's just setting the state for spring.

MorningAJ said...

I wrote a very long essay at university about why we're squeamish about eating certain species. It had quite a section about "a dog is a man's best friend, so you don't eat them" and a whole page about how we call meat on the plate something different from meat on the hoof. The closer something lives to us, the less likely we are to eat it. On a "them and us" basis.
Horses cross that line in the UK but not other countries, apparently.

Granny Sue said...

I'm very glad those were not really eyeballs; eyeball soup does not sound appealing. I'm not too worried about horsemeat; it's been eaten for years and horses are herbivores after all. I think we cringe at the idea of it because we place horses above other animals in our affections--right up there with dogs and cats, which we can't think of eating either. More reason in that case since they are meat eaters and not too picky sometimes!

Gwil W said...

It wasn't so much the fact that it was horsemeat as the fact that it was labelled as beef that got my goat, as it were.

In fact I've eaten horsemeat here in Austria where it comes in warm steaming slices on a bun from a street vendor - it's called Pferdleberkäse - or Horselivercheese. I've no idea what's really in it as the numerous hotdog stands sell such a variety - everything from bosnas to bratwursts with or without gherkins etc..

At the moment the hot chestnuts are in abundance.

Rachel said...

I suppose it's all about being mislead into thinking it is the most wonderful pure beef in your very cheap beefburger when actually it is just cheap horse meat mixed up with bits of an old dry dairy cow and really if you thought about it a wonderful pure beef beefburger couldn't cost so little.

Gwil W said...

I expect burgers will be on "special offer" at Tesco.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I your stories of the winter wonderland - and the photos - but glad we are a tad warmer here.

I suspect that our distaste for horse meat comes from a long ago prejudice of eating our riding and plowing animals. After all, many people in India would cringe at the way we eat beef. Horses eat grass and grain so are similar to beef, and we do praise our bison burgers here in the U.S. I think it is a matter of, how hungry are we, and how will we feed everyone in the world. But to mislable it, that is not good - if it is horse, say it is, and let us make our choices.

Heather said...

Fortunately I'm not keen on beefburgers but why we are so squeamish about horsemeat when we happily eat all manner of animals and birds I cannot think, but maybe it is the deception that has riled everyone. If I had to kill my own meat I'd become a vegetarian!
Our supermarket was very busy today with the weekend forecast bringing shoppers out early for their end of week stock-up.
All we have seen so far have been a few tiny pellets of snow which didn't even settle. Time will tell.

Angie said...

Many would be horrified if they knew what was in some of our foods but I suppose we should be informed. I remember being told what went into a hotdog ....put me off for a while ....not that I eat them very often. I actually would prefer not to know there is horse in my burger ...I rarely eat brgers but I prefer the flavour of some of the cheaper ones . I just want to know that all the meat in a product is safe to eat ...(no mad cow etc) ...am I terrible???? xx

shadypinesqltr said...

Hamburger meat (mince?) made the headlines here in the States a few months ago when it was revealed that a substance of "pink slime" was routinely used by meat processors and butchers to enhance the colour of the meat in the package/meat case. While the perpetrators insisted that the "slime" was in fact all natural beef products. There was such an outrage that it has supposedly been removed from the manufacturing process. I think a few years ago there was a story about the fast food industry using hamburger mixed with horse meat and bought from S. America.

I once ate a very tasty "beef" stew from a roadside stand in Hong Kong while I was in the WRAC. I was told later that it was dog stew.

mansuetude said...

Love these last two posts. Your voice is rich and open.

Now i think i shall go stew an eyeball or two.

E Wix said...

Hope you are keeping warm by the Aga!
We only buy meat from the local butcher where we can see what is being put in the mince.....
I remember the horse meat shop in Brentwood when I was a child where we bought it for the dogs!

The Weaver of Grass said...

No more snow yet but the sky looks full of it. Thanks for calling by.

angryparsnip said...

Beautiful photo today.

cheers, parsnip