There are some things about the UK that Americans are never meant to understand…
- Eating baked beans for breakfast, on purpose, and not in some kind of Bear Grylls survival mode because it’s a choice between eating the beans and eating some random rodent you’ve caught with your shoelace and boiled in your own urine.
- Last names like “Grylls” that have no vowels.
- The Queen.
And then there’s The Glorious Twelfth. A friend explained that this is the day (defined by the Game Act of 1831 because some things are just too important to leave to chance) when the grouse hunting season officially opens. The way this works, he said, is simple. First, you are born very very rich or at least with rich friends who can afford to maintain the all-important grouse meadows of Scotland. Then on August twelfth, you grab your gun, dog, boots, and as much tweed as you can get onto your body, and you happily blast away until you have a big pile of grouse. (They’re pretty tiny, so you really need to get a bunch of them.) There are, he went on, many ways to cook grouse, but he insisted the best was salt-roasted with truffles.
Now, I’m not a gourmet cook. (In fact, that sentence is completely accurate even without the word “gourmet”…) But I was intrigued. So recently when the dog and I went past the butcher’s shop in hopes of getting some nice juicy bones (her) and something easy to cook for dinner (me), I was amazed to see that he was offering grouse. Three of them in fact, at an oxygen-gasping price. But hey… here I was in Scotland after The Glorious Twelfth and these were actual grouse.
My grouse and I came home and started looking for a salt-roasting recipe. It seemed like a terrific excuse for a Friday Five Challenge search. But, sadly, with the five-minute clock ticking down to zero, I had to admit failure. I did see an intriguing cover for something that proved to technically, not be an actual book. But since this exercise is all about the covers, I thought it fit within the spirit of the Friday Five Challenge. More on that apres grouse.
The first challenge was finding a recipe, please Google. Although actual recipes were hard to pin down, my search did turn up a lot of information about grouse and The Glorious. Apparently there was much competition between restaurants to be the first to serve grouse each year. One famous French chef, Louis Eustache Ude, was in charge of the kitchens at an exclusive London club called Crockford’s. One year, the week before The Glorious Twelfth, he served grouse. But one club member, the fifth Marquis of Queensberry, from Scotland, was so outraged at the flagrant disregard for the legal grouse hunting season that he reported the chef to the police. Ude was duly charged, and had to appear the next morning in Bow Street court, where he was given a small fine and admonished to adhere to the law. Later that day, the Marquis returned to the club, scanned the menu to make sure there was no mention of the illegal bird, and ordered a new dish which had been added in its place—Salami de fruit défendu. It’s not clear whether the Marquis ever realized that the “forbidden fruit” in his salami was grouse.
Having finally found a recipe, the next challenge was getting the ingredients. Apparently, truffles of the non-chocolate persuasion are so expensive you need an armored truck to deliver. Certainly, none were available in my neighborhood. Or in Glasgow. Or Scotland. Luckily, the grocer was willing to produce a little bottle of “truffle-infused” oil. Since the recipe also called for at least six kilos of kosher salt which, although probably cheaper than truffles, proved just as elusive, I went for bags of rock salt (six) and some sacks of table salt as filler.
HOW TO SERVE GROUSE
The process was simple. First you open your little plastic-wrapped grouse, and (eww, yuck) remove feathers and other er…unnecessary bits. Then you pour a ton of salt into your biggest bowl, mix in enough water to make it into a mushy clay, and pack that around the grouse inside a big pot. You bake that at super high temps and have to leave the house because the smell of cooking salt is surprisingly gross. Then you open all your windows, come back in and dump the giant salt brick out. You crack it open with the correct chef’s tool (really big honking hammer) and brush off all the excess salt which the recipe swore would not flavor the birds in the least little bit. Yeah, right. Then you serve it along with a fruit vinaigrette (they recommend you make it with wild blueberries because that’s what is usually in the bird’s crop when it is shot, and no—I really didn’t need to know that bit at all…). Then you sit down to your itty bitty little salty bird, take a bite, and realize the truth. It tastes horrible. So bad that ancient, sweaty, gym socks would taste better. Baked beans for breakfast would taste better. You throw away the birds and order pizza. It’s glorious.
Rosie Amber’s Friday Five challenge is to take ONLY FIVE MINUTES to browse an unfamiliar category and select a book based solely on the cover art.
A postcard box set of 100 cookbook covers curated by Penguin Art Director John Hamilton. A potted history of book jacket art over the last sixty or so years – classic, witty and inventive – and the perfect gift item for foodies and design fans.
- Book Title: Cookery Postcards from Penguin: 100 Cookbook Covers in One Box
- Author: John Hamilton
- Genre: ??
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Pos edition (March 31, 2015)
- Price: $10.08/£5
- Reviews: 11 for a total of 4.5 out of 5 stars (73% 5 stars)
- Pages: [100 boxed postcards]
My Analysis: I think it’s clear from the above story that the nearest I should be allowed to cookbooks is, in fact, the cover. Who could resist these fabulous covers, especially when you don’t actually have to cook anything? Plus, I think one of them would, in fact, taste better than that grouse…
BUY or PASS: BUY
Here is Rosie’s Friday Five Challenge. It only took five minutes and a couple more to write up, and was a ton of fun. I hope you’ll consider joining in. All Rosie asks is that you link back to her original post here so we can all join in viewing your challenge results.
AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?
My Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….
- Go to any online book supplier,
- Randomly choose a category,
- Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,
- Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.
- If there are reviews, check out a couple,
- Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?
- I’ll be back next week with another Friday Five Challenge, do feel free to join in.