School dinners

I have always thought of my great-grandmother as a redoubtable woman.  Not that I have any reason, except that she was evidently proud of her Scottish heritage, because her first son (after whom my Ro is named) had a Gaelic name and her second, my grandfather, was educated in Scotland, rather than at the English public school of her husband’s family.

I thought of this because a friend enthused, by text, about his first taste of venison today.  I enjoy venison too, but I never tasted it while my father was alive.  He couldn’t bear it, and for a perfectly good reason.  At his school, near Perth, venison was a regular addition to the winter menu.  The local laird, generously, used to send deer as a gift, and the headmaster liked it high.  It was hung for quite some time, and apparently the school reeked of strong meat by the time it came to be cooked.  My father never developed a taste for it, and never ate it again.

The Sage, similarly, has had a lifetime aversion to celery.  His headmaster loved celery soup and a great deal of the vegetable was grown in the school kitchen garden.  You would hardly think that celery would influence someone’s tastes that badly, but the Sage never puts any on his plate.  I do use it in soups and casseroles, but always judiciously so that the flavour does not predominate, and he likes my cooking, so he accepts it quite graciously.

I don’t think I’ve got any food hang-ups.  My mother hated parsnips with a passion, but I don’t.  I had a bad experience with jugged hare once and have never tried it since, but I suspect that was the cook rather than the hare at fault.  When young, I wasn’t fond of gin, but I grew out of that a long time ago.  I’m not thrilled by cooked bananas, but that doesn’t mean I can’t eat them.  I deal with offal, stinky cheese and interesting flavours with enthusiasm, although I’m not altogether enamoured of the more snot-like consistency of some Chinese food, particularly the soups.  Still, nothing I can’t handle.

My great-grandmother’s name was Grace, by the way.

12 comments on “School dinners

  1. yaya

    Deer meat is common here but I don’t care for the gamey taste of it. I can’t each water chestnuts sick on them once..wish I had gotten sick on chocolate or sweets instead! Funny the things we never forget from childhood!

  2. georgie

    Beef liver…Mom was determined it was a healthy inexpensive dish and tried to con, er, convince Dad and I to eat it. She tried to bbq it, boil it, steam it, grill, bake. None of the efforts worked. Just the thought of beef liver makes my stomach lurch.

  3. Z

    My mother wasn’t fond of beef (we call it ox) or pig liver, so we normally had lamb. I don’t mind the stronger taste, though. I can’t think what there is in the taste of water chestnut to dislike, although I know what you mean about the reminder of something that made you sick.

    I’ve never tried tripe. Haven’t seen it for sale for years. I can eat haggis, but it’s not a favourite. I’m really trying to think of something I simply can’t eat, but I haven’t come up with anything yet.

  4. Roses

    I’m with the Sage about celery. I no like at all.

    I despise rhubarb.

    Turkey and I have a mutual loathing and dislike.

    Apart from that, I’m fairly easy to please. I will do the dishes if plied with alcohol (but don’t give me the good china).

  5. Dave

    I have never eaten venison. Or duck. (Or dog or horse come to that, but that’s less surprising.) Not through fadishness. Just because I’ve never been offered it.

    Will there be venision sausages at the party?

  6. 63mago

    I had to look for the word “venison”, a fitting translation seems to be “Rotwild”. One of my uncles was a hunter and he gave his prey to my grandfather whom I helped with it. Strangely enough grandfather also cooked it; he never did other things in the kitchen, that was my grandmother’s reign.
    I can not eat Rote Beete / beetroot. Once when ill as a child they were forced upon me. Since that day I can not bear it, even the smell makes me sick. Some French cheese has a similar effect on me, I guess it’s chemical warfare …

  7. Mike and Ann

    Brussel Sprouts – absolutely GHASTLY!!!!! Was made to eat them as a child – great overgrown, overcooked, pinkish inside, sour tasting Grandfather brussel sprouts. As an adult usually eat three at Christmas lunch (but Ann very kindly picks out three small green ones(not over-cooked) for me. I do this partly because I’m a traditionalist, and partly to prove to the children and grandchildren (who, generally, agree with me about the revolting things) that they are actually edible, and do no serious damage to the human frame, apart from their attack on the taste buds.

    But the thought of the brusell sprouts of my youth is still inclined to make me gag.

  8. Z

    Venison, according to the book I’m reading, is from venari, Latin for ‘to hunt’ and originally meant any hunted animal, but has meant deer meat since the 15th century. If the local butcher has venison sausages, I shall buy some, but he doesn’t usually.

    Overcooked/badly cooked food as a childhood memory seems to have a permanent effect on many of us. “Childhood is made up of sights and sounds and smells” as John Betjeman had it – and flavours too, it would appear!

  9. Rate My Sausage

    Splendid Z, top marks. You are right about the etymology of venison. From the Norman conquest onwards any hunted meat was called venison, including deer, swine, hares, even goat.

    The French for the inner organs of a deer is “nombles” or “noumbles”, giving us the English phrase “humble pie”. While the lord and lady dined on the good cuts of the deer, the underlings would be given “a noumble pie”.

  10. Alienne

    Only prawns – as a result of a couple of nasty instances of serious sickness. The landlord of a pub with a good seafood restaurant in the village where I used to live told me that a lot of his customer used to dose themselves up on antihistamines before visiting so they could eat shellfish. Personally I prefer to eat something I know I can keep down! I am not wild about venison as I find it a bit rich, like boar, but i would eat it if it was put in front of me.

  11. Z

    I bet none of us has ever eaten humble pie, Simon.

    If I were allergic to something, the anxiety would certainly override any pleasure in the taste. I find that inexplicable.

  12. luckyzmom

    I won’t eat lamb or veal. Not because of the taste but because I love babies too much. I also don’t bother with lobster because I don’t see what all the excitement is about (it’s usually overcooked anyway) and I like snow crab and shrimp as well or better. Like you Z, I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t eat, though there are things I would prefer not to.


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