Thursday, 20 December 2012

Playing with food words

Meatloaf - but I won't do that.

Family GP had a bit of a riot around the table the other night.

I'd managed to pull off one of those meals that was both made up on the spot (along general guidelines provided by Mrs G) and evoked actual "wow"s from the minions. I don't like to brag, but I like telling you how impressed they were. OK, I'm bragging.

I'd made individual meatloaves in silicon muffin forms. In the mix was your standard onion, beef mince, salt and pepper to taste, but I added a very finely grated carrot, some finely minced mushroom, and left out the egg and breadcrumbs, which are really just stand-ins for reasonable food. I also added a good dollop of hoisin sauce to the mix, and another sneaky one at the bottom of each form, so that it bubbled up through the stuff as it baked.

I don't think this is exactly restaurant-grade anything, but the result impressed.

Conversation moved to how it could possibly be improved. The first suggestion was for a little blob of fetta in the middle. Then the fetta had to be poked inside a potato gem (a tater tot, for any Yanks reading) before the meatloaf mix was formed around it. Then the fetta-stuffed potato gem needed a bacon blanket before disappearing inside the meatloaf.

About then we got sidetracked by how it should be described. Following the example of the "turducken" (a turkey stuffed with a duck, itself stuffed with a chicken), and after much hilarious experimentation, we settled on "me-baco-tater-fetta-loaf" to describe this entirely fanciful concoction.

Nobody at any point actually thought we would ever make such a thing, it was just a silly conversation where everybody got to throw in a ridiculous idea and see where it led.

Do other people have dinner table conversations like this? I remember well the terrible punning conversations I and my brothers (and Dad) would have when we were young, while our Mother groaned and sighed. When I married Mrs G, Mum advised her to ignore us when we started to try to out-do one another with ever more terrible puns. Anything else just encourages us. We still do it, because the only encouragement we need is each other.

There's a harmless, silly kind of fun in creative wordplay. I'd much rather be collaborating in the naming of a "me-baco-tater-fetta-loaf" with my minions than talking about the weather, or what they might have seen on television.

There's also laughter.

It's so good to laugh with your minions. The healing power of laughter should not be underestimated.

For all the trials we've faced this year, getting around the table and being silly quickly restores a bit of perspective.

Mrs G and I are blessed to have families which are only mildly dysfunctional. For those of you less fortunate, yet who are obliged at this time of year to share meals with the odd people you're related to, I hope you're able to spot some absurdity and run with it.

You never know who'll try to keep up.

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