Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cutting the End Off a Roast

I mentioned to my massage therapist that I need to start thinking differently about what pictures to take now that I have a digital camera.  I see things and remark on them but I don’t pull out my camera because if it was film, I wouldn’t waste it – but now it’s just electrons – the picture is stored in electrons. The battery is charged with electrons.  I never have to pay for developing or printing.  But I go home find myself wishing I’d taken more pictures because my brain is still thinking in terms of film.


My massage therapist said, “My mother told me about putting a roast in a pan...”


I interrupted her.  “That story did not happen to your mother.”


“She said it did.”


“That story has been going around the internet for at least 20 years.”


“My mother told me this story over 20 years ago and I don’t think you’ve heard it.”


“That story has been going around the motivational talk circuits for over 40 years” (Okay I was making up that number – I honestly don’t remember the first time I heard it.)  “And I don’t think it happened to anybody, anyway.”


By this point my massage therapist was looking at me as if I was either unbelievably rude or crazy. She dug her fingers into a particularly sore spot on my leg.


So, I said, “I know how big my pans are and I’d never buy a roast that was too big for my pans, or if I did, it would only happen once, and I’d be careful after that..”


“Oh, you do know this story.”  She looked shocked.


For those of you who don’t know this story, it starts with a young husband who comes into the kitchen to see his new bride.  She is in the process of cutting the end off a roast.  He asks her why.  She says she doesn’t know, but that’s what her mother always did.  The young husband suggests they call her mom.


Mom says she doesn’t know why, but that’s what her mother did.


They call grandma.  Grandma says she cuts the ends off her roasts so they’ll fit in her pan.


The point of this story is supposed to be that we do things that may have made sense once upon a time, but that are no longer useful.


I think it’s a story made up by someone who never cooked.


Roasts don’t come in one size and pans in another.  Roasts are squishy. If the roast is marginally too big for the pan, you just have to squish it and maybe turn it on a diagonal to make it fit. The story presupposes that a roast is like a block of wood that must fit precisely into the pan.


Meat is expensive.  If for some reason a cook did cut off the end of the roast, she’d put that piece up against the side of the roast to make sure it didn’t go to waste.


And if grandma ever did get a roast that was too big for her pan (unlikely given the price of meat) she, like me would be careful next time she bought a roast, or she’d buy a bigger pan. She would not make a lifetime habit of buying roasts too big for her pan and discarding the end piece.


“But my mom told this story as if it happened to her.”


“Call your mom and ask her if it really happened, or if she was just retelling a story she’d heard.”


My massage therapist looked at me with new respect.  “I don’t think anybody ever thought about that story before.  You’re right – it doesn’t make sense.” She found another sore spot on my leg.

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