Monday, July 10, 2017

Sepia Saturday 375: My Goose is Cooked

We've had record-breaking heat around here and who would think about turning on the oven and roasting a goose when it's 100 degrees outside?

I blame the prompt which disappeared before I could copy and paste it here. In the copy accompanying the picture, goose fat was suggested in jest as an accessory for a dip in a cold lake. 

Yes, the man diving into the lake is a cool and refreshing image, perfect for July. I did enjoy that photo and the stimulation of attempting to identify the lake in California the scene was on. The trees around the lake look like they are suffering either from beetle infestation or fire, both of which are regular occurrences in California. I did manage to find a weak grandfather, mother and her two sisters at the beach. The men's bathing suits are similar. My grandfather's was of a later vintage. 
But the comment about rubbing your body with goose fat interested me, far more than the diver did. Sorry old chap. Googling goose fat (for a food person) was like falling down a rabbit hole. Two hours later I emerged from the website of the Goose Fat Information service, older and wiser. The entertaining English chef Mike Robinson hosted the site (which seems to have begun and ended in 2009) with lovely recipes and a video of himself roasting potatoes. I found the video informative but also astonishing. He cooks the potatoes in about a quart of goose fat . They should have linked to a cardiologists website too!!

Here you can link to the service and read the recipes. And the video...

I worked for the California Egg Commission during the height of the cholesterol madness, for Lawry's Foods (seasoned salt) and for Equal when it was being reviled everywhere for all manner of problems. So, it interests me when I see others in the same position. At a culinary school lecture once, the students called me an apologist for the egg industry and compare me with someone selling cigarettes. I never got booed, but the audience was close a couple of times. People get passionate about these things. 

Mike's recipes are fun to read. His writing is breezy and casual— different from our American recipe writing style. Compare to Mike, we are painfully stiff and serious about writing instructions. There are rules, mostly promulgated by the food editors of food magazines and it would be impossible to have a recipe published years ago if one didn't conform. The internet changed all of that. Thousands of food bloggers now write whatever they want. Mike has a good time and invites us to have a good time too. He "tosses" ingredients into pots and pans, "scatters" garnishes and for doneness—"prods food with a good deal of assertion." 

Once I wrote a recipe for the exterior

of a box, instructing the reader to prick the bottom of a pastry shell before baking. My boss, who I concluded had never read a recipe in his life, blushing from his shirt collar to his hairline, told me I couldn't use the word "prick." Even though I showed him many illustrations of the word used as a culinary term, he couldn't stand it. We said, "pierce with the tines of a fork." I wonder how Mike would have put it.

In the end, I read that long distance swimmers, particularly Channel swimmers use Vaseline all over the bodies instead of goose fat, which was abandoned years ago—too heavy, smelly and not enough lubricity. It's used to protect against chafing, not for retaining body heat. Chafing is one of the major problems with executing 50,000 or so strokes for a channel crossing.

But that's another rabbit hole to go down. For now, I'm joining the cats in my pool.


  1. Hmmm . . . as I was focusing on the diving aspect of the prompt picture, I never thought to try to match the lake with one I might know? Now, of course, I'm going to have to do a little research. :) And speaking of lubricants, do you remember using bars of cocoa butter as sunscreen? Makes you smell like a giant candy bar and if you go swimming in cold water, when you come out of the water your body is solid white until the sun melts the cocoa butter again.

  2. I was afraid you actually were baking a goose in 100+ degree weather for a minute!

  3. I was just talking to a friend the other day about how we used to slather on coconut oil and then lie in the sun getting baked. We were out of our minds! And we'd even roll over to make sure we were nice and brown on all sides. We pay for it now decades later with visits to the dermatologist. Perhaps those old bathing suits were onto something. Less skin, less sun damage.