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Gill and I were discussing meat during our latest Skype.  She confessed proudly that she had bought a large brisket on sale at her local Waitrose store.

“Excuse me? You actually bought a hunk of meat to cook? And you knew what it was called? You’ve been holding out on me! ‘Fess up…have you been secretly watching Jamie Oliver in your spare time? You’re always lamenting your lack of knowledge about meat and how to cook it. Other moms get emergency pleas for medical help, financial assistance…I get calls about meat.I can’t count the number of ’emergency emails’ I’ve received over the years that say:”Help! I’ve got this slab of meat…now what?”

“Well, I couldn’t resist. It was enough to do me for three weeks!”

I was  a proud mother — almost as proud as if she’d presented me with a new grand-puppy! That’s how tenuous Gill’s relationship with meat is:”Well done you! Excellent purchasing skills. It seems you’ve learned something about domesticity after all. Who’d have thunk it?”

“I know. Right? There is one slight problem, though. It was on sale in the ‘bargain bin’. ..with a sign that said ‘Enjoy tonight’.”

“Oh, STEP AWAY FROM THE MEAT IMMEDIATELY! That means it’s about an hour shy of ‘going off’. You’d better cook it up quick or you might have to ditch it! No point getting food poisoning. That’s no bargain!”

Gill countered (justifiably, I confess) with:”You have to be kidding me…this from the lady who harbored old jars of  ‘past their due date’ mayo or other such delights –including milk–and when we complained used to tell us ‘You worry too much. It’s just fine!’?”

I agreed: “Well, let’s just say that perhaps I’ve learned the error of my ways. Or perhaps with age comes wisdom…for humans, not food.”

Gill commented testily: “I believe that ship has sailed, Ma!Unless you’ve been holding out on me after Crazy D and L’il Sis left and you DID get ptomaine that you’re not telling us about.I knew I should have worried more when they left your house. We need to have a good spy there to keep us up on your sketchy behavior and questionable domestic habits.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sakes.I too have bought ‘enjoy tonight meat’. And those ‘best buy dates’ are really just suggestions. I try to be careful. But you have to remember my background  — my parents lived through The Great Depression (for the life of me, I don’t know why people called it that…there was nothing GREAT about it). My dad always insisted on keeping cans of Spam and ham and stewed tomatoes in his ‘pantry’ in the basement — ‘Just in Case’. In his case, it was ‘just in case’ hard times came again  and there was a shortage of Spam delicacies. Of course, I believe that was before the days of ‘best by dates’. People back then tended to be more religious and I guess they figured God would save them from Spam contamination.Most of what he had in the basement pantry was on the very edge of exploding from botulism. But I’m much more careful than that.”

“But are you really, Ma? We three kids have our doubts. Many’s the time I’ve considered reporting you to Health and Safety…or whatever it’s called in Canada.”

Attempting to change the touchy subject, I asked:”So do you know exactly how you’re going to cook this humungous hunk of meat?”

“Uh, yup. Well, actually, contradicting your belief that we never listen to what you say,  I’ve decided, since we’ve been talking, that I’m having a nice salad for dinner. Suddenly I don’t feel like meat…besides, as I look at it now, I don’t think it will actually fit in my tiny British oven, the one that’s a small step up from my childhood Barbie one…”