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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 12.06.14
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

The meatloaf, and the ruination thereof

And we must ask ourselves, what is the meatloaf? Be it meat or loaf? The French declare it to be pain de viande, which translates as "meat bread." Does this settle the question or confound, for how can bread -- cherished dual conveyor of hand-held meats -- also be the meat? Should we not instead call it buche de viande? Should we perhaps not have translated the French at all, especially now that we know that buche de viande means "meat log"? C'est possible, mon cher lait de pouleu.

Next, if we are to truly ruin the meatloaf, we must raise the meatloaf in our esteem and in the esteem of our kinfolk. As you pore over back issues of Canadian Living in search of something to feast upon, something to wrench your household out of its gastronomical rut, you turn a page and, like an oven light dawning, declare, "What about meatloaf?" And your loved ones reply, "Meatloaf? Ugh!"

And thus it falls upon you to praise the meatloaf, its melting pot simplicity, its democracy of flavours. Is it not savoury? Is it not meaty? Is it not simple to slice with a butter knife and even easier to chew anon? The meatloaf is all these things and many other things we're not quite sure of. That is the mystery.

But the meatloaf must also do its part. In order to ruin the meatloaf, the meatloaf must first want to be ruined. It must seek to soar, knowing it will fall. Fly, meatloaf, to the heavens! Fly too close to the sunflower seeds, or in this case, the wheat germ, shredded carrot, and zucchini described in the recipe.

"Glazed! Fibre-packed and nutrient-dense!" you preach to your beloveds. "It says right here that my 'little ones will gobble these up.'" Oh hubris! "And look: they're mini! Mini individual meatloaves you bake in a muffin tin." "So, they're meatballs?"

Nay, measly meatballs they are not. These be mighty barbecue-glazed mini meatloaves, the fanciest pants of all the meatloaves. Does your family fail to see that the first ingredient is not ketchup, not spaghetti sauce, but passata, strained tomatoes? Never have you graced your table with passata. You are on such a high plain of sophistication now that you refrain from saying, "I made a passata woman at the grocery store and she hip-checked me right in the hollandaise." As refrain you should.

Now you have elevated the meatloaf, raised it up, filled it with a longing to be smothered by the homemade barbecue sauce (O passata!) as well as the shredded carrot, which in itself may not ruin the meatloaf but you're beginning to suspect will certainly help.

But go! Go now to your freezer. Ignore the numbing of your fingers as you dig deep, further down than you thought possible, to at last the darkest corners where lie the forgotten bags of shredded zucchini, deposited there these many years, possibly even transferred from the old freezer. Could that be true? To truly ruin the meatloaf, it must be true! Have faith, mon oreille de crisse!

For time is your ally in ruining the meatloaf, or rather the passing of time and its wasting of all things, including, apparently, the wheat bran. Should wheat bran smell that way? Like an infrequently opened drawer? Maybe you should Google that. But would Genghis Khan Google Chaka Khan? He would not, warrior friend. Tell yourself, "It's organic; it's supposed to smell weird," and blend. Blend like the wind! Proceed with the desolation of the meatloaf by kneading in the wheat germ in tandem with the zucchini, and you're not entirely convinced about the pasatta, to be perfectly honest.

Bake at 400 F for 12 to 14 minutes.

Behold your muffin tins of meat! Are you not already suspecting they smell funky? Have you an inkling that something is awry, and not simply too much garlic? Could you truly have ruined them so entirely? You dare not hope. For they look, still, like perfectly edible meat muffins (brioche de viande).

There is only one way to conclude whether your meatloaves have, as the prophet foretold, choked the big kahuna. You take a bite, you pause, and you say to your kin, "You might want ketchup." And another bite to be certain. "Lots of ketchup." And then you will eat of it no more.

For, rejoice, you have ruined meatloaf. Celebrate with an extra baked potato that thank goodness you have on hand. And it shall come to pass that the abominated barbecue-glazed mini meatloaves are indeed gobbled up, as it is written, only not by the little ones but by the hound of the house.

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