Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Valentines for psychopaths

The lamb heart weighs heavy in my hand, nearly filling my palm with cold, wet meat. On the cutting board I quarter it, and finding a droplet of blood in a ventricle, give this to the cat. I am not a butcher. I am not even hungry, which is a relief, as this is a meal that will take hours. The heart is a muscle, suitable for slow braising, and patience is required for this.

In a hot pan, butter swirls, darkening. The quarters of heart and pieces of oxtail sizzle, their proteins browning and seizing. The Maillard reaction; caramelisation of protein, creating burnt, complex, sulfurous aromas. Think of barbeque. Think of searing steak. Think of carbon.

Chunks of onion, garlic, carrots and bay leaves follow the bronzed meat, and half a bottle of Tempranillo bubbles to life in the pan, its acid pulling the stuck and browned protein away from the edges. I do this without thinking; the excitement of trying a new food tempered by the waiting time, by the wine flushing my white cheeks hot, by the aroma set to awaken slumbering bellies. It's not time to eat yet. The slowest burner on the lowest flame cradles the crockery; hot lid tilted at a jaunty angle to release the steam. There might be enough time for a nap.

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