As the Gravy Flows

 

As the Gravy Flows

Viscosity is always a consideration, as is definition:
traditionally a sauce composed of meat juices and
thickeners, or, a sediment of melted tallow, which
somehow brings to mind a laborer rising early after
a hard night, eating red-eye, made of fried ham
drippings and coffee, served over grits. Or perhaps
an egg gravy – a béchamel sauce flavored by bacon,
with water and milk, and an egg – ladled over butter-
rubbed biscuits. But then I picture my vegetarian
friends pushing away from plates of this fine repast,
and not wishing to deny them or those following a vegan
lifestyle, we turn to roasted vegetables with broth, oils
and wine and a savory yeast extract. But I can’t fathom
a life without giblet gravy, which features the neck and
offal of fowl, including the liver, the taste of which may
be too strong for other recipes using giblets, an interesting
word in itself, from the Old French for a game-bird stew,
and the Middle English meaning of an inessential
appendage, or entrails, morphing to garbage. I would
never throw out an onion gravy, essentially a thick sauce
of slow-cooked onion and stock or wine, and admit to
having tasted a cream version with the consistency and
flavor of diluted paste, indicating a lack of balance in
flavor and poor roux-making technique. My favorite
would be an Italian-American buddy’s gravy, his word
for a rich ragù of sausage, braised beef and shredded
pork, red wine, tomatoes and herbs, served over pasta.
This of course stretches the definition of the word, but
language is elastic, is it not? So it flows, as does the gravy.

“As the Gravy Flows” was drafted during the August 2016 30/30 Challenge. Thank you to Lady Phoenix for sponsoring the poem and providing the title!

18 thoughts on “As the Gravy Flows

  1. In cooking, herbalism, fermentation, or making beverages, it is very helpful to have a solid grounding in chemistry. Aside from the physics of viscosity, one must ask, what is soluble in what? What will form a suspension or a colloid? In a solution (like water and alcohol) the two are evenly mixed and each is in liquid phase. What will separate? Alcohol has a level of polarity in between that of water (very polar) and oil (nonpolar), so can dissolve some of both ends of the charged/uncharged molecular spectrum. Suspensions and colloids (like gravys) are mixtures of solid particles in liquids, but suspensions will settle while colloids will not (smaller particles). What are the properties of the target bioactive or flavor molecules in the extraction? Acidity or basicity will increase the solubility of alkaloids and other polar molecules. Will your admixtures clog the filters, or form clumps which refuse to break up? Caffeine and many other drugs and poisons are alkaloids, but there are non-alkaloid drugs too. Alkaloids have properties that make it easy for them to cross the blood brain barrier and be active in the CNS. Unmixed cocoa powder, for instance, will only clump in hot water or milk unless you put it in a blender, but a 50/50 mix of cocoa powder and sugar will mix in relatively evenly and easily (at least in milk) because the sugar breaks up the cocoa’s hydrophicity (repulsion from water, repulsion from charged particles), and perhaps helps it be ‘dissolved’ by direct effects of the sugar in solution (ask a real chemist..).

    Liked by 2 people

    • At this point in my cooking life, I must admit that I rely mostly on experience and intuition. A good grounding in chemistry would have helped greatly in the earlier days, and would have alleviated some of the monsters created through trial by error. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good thing I just ate, or I’d be compelled to make some sort of gravy thing. The effort would likely not end well — certainly, it would fall short of your mouth-watering description.

    Liked by 2 people

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