Friday, October 7, 2011

It Ain't No Bouquet of Roses but it'll do...

Most children bring their mothers the occasional bouquet of posies, an achingly charming hand built pottery item, some small token of their sudden awareness that they have parents at all. My daughter, Ella, is 15, starting high school, and beginning to firm up her ideas of Self. So what did she bring me? It was a freshly slaughtered pig's head and its 7 pound quivering liver from a 260# sow that she had skinned and eviscerated for our neighbor. Oh so casually, she tossed over her shoulder, "I thought you'd want to do something with that so I saved it from being buried. Sorry, I was too late to catch the blood."

I waited for a day. A WHOLE day, before saying to her, "You know that pig's head and liver you gave me? Well, I think YOU should do something with that. The obvious thing to do with the liver is to make paté and I've got some encrôute pans you could use."

If you have a teenager, you KNOW they cannot possibly learn anything from you. So, I craftily conscripted my dearest friend and chef colleague, Peg Davis, to come over and school her in the mysteries of paté. So, as Peg directed from a chair, Ella made her first béchamel and trimmed liver while I was the dog's body and dishwasher, sawing out the brain for tanning, roasting off the head for pho stock (article photo above), making encrôute dough, sweating onions and bacon and well, you know, washing the dishes.

There I am sawing the brain out with a pruning saw (where IS my boning saw, Ella?). Good old Oster ensures baby bottom smoothness of the paté. And Peg is demo'ing how to fill the molds while trying not to get liver on her Dad's cashmere sweater.

The afternoon's result was a beautiful thing. We laughed, gave one another a merciless hard time, ate, drank and laughed some more. In the end, there was the visceral satisfaction of completing the circle that is Life. Having taught culinary arts for high school once upon a time, I feel an unwavering conviction that THIS is how we should be teaching our children. And if we did, you'd be giving your mom a pig's head too.

Moral of the story? If you're going to eat it, then feed it responsibly, raise it and slaughter it humanely and for God's sake, use every bit.


dedavis321 said...

My sister Peggy has been an inspiration to me (I am 2 year's younger and also trying not to stain my inherited cashmere sweater she sent me from Dad). If I had her strength and constant joy for continue my culinary path (which ended in a motorcycle accident in San Fran on a foggy night in 1986) teaching teens to cook would be fantastic! My 19 year old son is finally getting it and I love that he calls if he needs a walk through on some craving he wants to cook for his room mates at school. But Peg is the KILLER! Wish I could have a slice of that pate' though! <>Dave Davis

Matthew Davis said...

Jealous, I am. Solid dead jealous. Kid Silvia and I would have adored being there for the kitchen thrills. - Matt Davis