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Humans have been eating meat since time immemorial. I can imagine early man grilling his hard-earned kill over raw fire. An earliest instance of barbeque (also barbecue). It is perhaps this rooted instinct that leads us (non-vegetarians) to thorougly enjoy meat cooked over open flames. There are ample examples of delicacies prepared in such a manner in almost every non-vegetarian society. We have the famous tandoori chicken of North India, the smoked pork and smoked salmon of the US and Canada, sheekh (sheesh) kabaab of Arabic origin and numerous others, all different variations of the same theme. An ethereal flavour is generated when smoke meets meat. Something that my vegetarian friends cannot relate to. The enjoyment of ripping flesh with bare canines is almost surreal. My grandma used to say that meat can only be enjoyed with fat dripping through the sides of the mouth. Yes, she loved her meat and she was a great cook. Peace be upon her!
I can empathise with vegetarianism or prohibition of meat out of religious or ethical compulsions but I do not agree with Maneka Gandhi of PETA (India) who through some vague theory proposes that humans are not suited to eating meat. I respect her concerns but her theory is clearly moot. Though undeniably, debate is hollow with someone with more opinion than facts.
We had planned a week in advance for an open-air barbeque (barbecue). We are a die-hard non-vegetarian family and there is meat on the table almost everyday. I prepared the meat in advance. The pork (with due respects to my Muslim friends) was soaked in brine over a week and refrigerated. The beef (with due respects to my Hindu friends) was first flattened with a meat cleaver and marinated in a paste of black pepper, asafoetida (jeera), ginger, few drops of vinegar, soya-sauce and rum overnight. The chicken (with due respects to late Salim Ali) was also marinated whole likewise. Three different species, all for the asking. We had also invited a friend over for the flesh feast. We do not have a ready made barbecue so we had to make one today. The barbecue was hurriedly constructed with blocks of bricks and abandoned construction steel rods for the skewer. Once the crude barbecue was ready, we lit the fire to commence our festivities. The meat was place over low and smoky heat for two hours. The odour of burning flesh wafted through the air and very soon we had inquisitive neighbours peering over the wall. Our Marwari neighbours shut their doors and windows and were in confinement till the gala was over. Patience was at its minimum as everyone saw the meat sizzle. The trouble with such cooking jamboree is that every Tom, Dick and Harry has some advice to impart. So, we had almost everybody poking the meat here and there and turning it over. Some were pouring oil and some were placing smoking embers on them for extra flavour. I was seething with rage inside - afterall, we have all heard the famous adage - all the while keeping my fingers crossed, hoping the aftermath would be palatable. Mum even threw in a couple of potatoes into the fire.
After a harrowing wait they were finally done. Then the meat was sliced into chewable slices. Someone had prepared a basic salad, just cucumbers, tomatoes and onion rings. The roasted potatoes also turned out all right. Chappatis were also piled up high at one end of the table. The celebrations had begun in earnest.
There was a deathly silence as each rolled the chewy bits in their mouths, sometimes stopping to take a deep breath to thoroughly savour the juices. Everything was just perfect. Couldn't have been better.
In about fifteen minutes only a few morsels of burnt meat and other items were left on the table. A sign of a truly successful party. Need I say more. 9:37 AM Permalink 1 comments