Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Whitelocke Anthology: "Cooking with Heraclitus"

Below is an extract from my popular historical cook book "Cooking with Heraclitus". This recipe comes from Part 3, entitled "Marinades for Balearic Island Cave Goat, Sardinian Giant Shrew, Tarpan and other red meats"

Grilled Mutton
As explained in great length in the chapters on goat, sardine and monk seal, the key to cooking in the style of Heraclitus is preparing uniquely ancient Grecian dishes while strictly complying with his confusing and often contradictory philosophies.

While eating red meat was almost unknown in Heraclitan times, the "Weeping Philosopher" has a lot to teach us on its preparation. Interestingly, his take on the famous Greek dish of marinated mutton is gamey and heavily salted. While in modern Greek cookery you might expect to see the involvement of Greek oregano (rigani), tomatoes and lemon in this type of dish, under the Heraclitan recipe the only ingredients in the marinade are vinegar and blood. If you must, you can substitute lamb for mutton in this recipe but, at all costs, avoid Hogget.


Firstly prepare the marinade. This will involve mixing 4 cups of sheep's blood with 2 cups of vinegar in a cast iron pot.

Heraclitus famously maintained "You cannot step twice into the same river." Therefore before marinating the meat I always wash it in one, and only one, local river. The Hawkesbury is probably the most convenient for my readers although the Manning and Murrumbidgee also impart good flavour. Washing raw meat in the Parramatta River will almost certainly lead to death. Once washed, the meat should be left in the marinade for at least 14 days.

Heraclitus argued that "the path up and down is one and the same". In cooking the mutton, this will require you to apply additional blood and vinegar marinade in strictly vertical brush strokes while the meat is cooking.

During the entire process, you must at all times remember that "The death of fire is the birth of air, and the death of air is the birth of water." I interpret this to mean that after you have first grilled the mutton over an open flame, you must then blow out the flame and submerge the meat in water at a rolling boil for at least 40 minutes.

Lastly, when eating this dish, it is critical to always follow the ritual of setting aside the gods' share (the fat and bones) to be burnt while the human share is eaten. If you are concerned you are not giving the gods a large enough share, the most prudent approach is often to burn the entire meal.

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