We have a winner. A well- known Vancouver chef, who we won’t mention because he might come after us with a French knife, has won honours, in our semi- annual “”Really Dumb Entree” contest. The award winning entry, which swept the hotly contested “Ridiculously Pretentious” category was called, Slow-cooked veal breast glazed in verjus, okra, pickled grapes, black olive soil, beet chips and watercress.
Black Olive soil? Fortunately for us the entry came with a picture showing a hunk of veal resting its flanks in a small pile of finely chopped olives, which one gathers is the soil component. The customer, operating without such benefit, would be left with his own thoughts, some of which might be, “Is that soil high nitrogen, and can I have it with the duck?” Or, “I’ll take mine pan fried with a double helping of worms.”
Obviously the chef who dreamed this one up has never grown anything in his life, because, if he had, he would realize soil is not something you want to put on your plate, nor approach with a fork. That’s because soil, good soil, and why would a chef use any other, is always stinky. Mainly because gardeners are always seeking to improve their soil which means doing whatever they can, stopping just short of mounting an outhouse over the carrots.
I learned this at an early age, playing with my toy trucks around the periphery of my father’s garden, which was enriched (see euphemism) with kelp, fish heads, and worst of all, starfish which he only used because he couldn’t find anything more offensive. One minute I’d be pushing a road through so my army truck could rescue the toy soldiers who had fallen into enemy hands over by the tomatoes, when, “HOLY SHIT GENERAL!” I’d plow into a rotting starfish, and be forced to abandon the mission. And the old man wondered why I wouldn’t eat tomatoes.
Soil, even in primitive societies, has never been regarded as something to put in one’s mouth. This was first discovered by Adam, the original organic farmer, who, after unloading the animals from the Ark, noticed his herd hurrying over to the nearest patch of dirt where they dropped their pants and made with the hot and steamy. “Ah ha!” Adam, an avid gardener, said. He then retired to his laboratory, where after much thought, created the world’s first equation. Dirt plus excrement equals soil.
Which leads us to gardening’s little secret, what Farmer’s Almanac will hint at but not come out and say. And that is, all gardeners have anal fixations. Anything brown, possibly green, that comes sliding out of the backside of an animal is considered gold. Cow, chicken, horse, sheep, Siberian hamster, any mention of excrement and its, “I’ll take all you’ve got. My husband will be right over with the truck.” (Sound of screeching tires as desperate husband tries to take new truck out of harm’s path.)
That’s why, the number one rule of the farm is, “Never under any circumstance eat the soil, even if you missed lunch.” If the wisdom of this edict eludes you, as it did for Olive Soil Boy, place your nose directly behind a cow’s (Also known as Soil Enrichment Device.) exhaust port and breathe deep when she’s in the throes of what farmers call “methane madness.” Which brings us to rule number two. Never light a match when so positioned.
If you still find yourself yearning for a nice bowl of soil, consider Biodynamic farming. That’s where a steer’s head, stuffed with an inoculum of, “who knows what but it sure stinks,” (I am not making this up.) is planted at the head of each gardening row. If this doesn’t make sense to you then you’re probably not seeing a colonic irrigationist.
Practitioners of the method, when they’re not howling naked at the full moon encouraging their plants to grow, (Go broccoli, go!) guarantee nothing is more effective at keeping kids with army trucks out of the tomatoes.
Meanwhile, with bated breath and firmly pinched nostrils, we await Olive Soil Chef’s new creations. Farm boys, incredulous the lot, are lining up at the fence to savour the new fall menu, which, according to the cooking channel, features items such as, Private Parts of highly organic cow, bed of freshly mowed fescue, cow pie chips, farm fresh silage, fish fertilizer drizzle.
Which leaves me asking, whatever happened to old standbys like, “Chicken with Tasty Dipping Sauce?”
Black olives are red wine friendly, especially reds from Mediterranean countries. Try a bottle of Castillo de Monseran Garnacha from Spain, an old standby and a solid competitor for best $10 wine in town
Delbert is the co-proprietor at Mahle House. Read more at Slightlycorkedandmore.wordpress.com.