They shoot sheep, don’t they?

They shoot sheep, don’t they?
An interior detail of the Palace of the Lost City at Sun City. Image by Sharon Ang from Pixabay

Hanging around with foodies and other interested parties down the years has educated me on myths and legends that surround food. Believe me, Jason had it easy when all he had to do was find the Golden Fleece.

I am the repository of information on food that I never asked for. And none of it has done any good. I still don’t know what goes into Vienna sausages and why black pepper stays in your body for seven years. And frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. I enjoy both.

There is something about a table of foodies – and particularly so when they are at a chef’s table – that presses the information button. Ready, steady GO…. open your mouth and pass it on. Whatever.

People will fix you with a gimlet eye at the dinner table, just as you are about to take another slug of wine, and tell you that they are vegan, gluten intolerant or detoxing. I don’t care, knock yourself out.

I have reached the stage where I am considering printing brochures and handing them around the table before I order. I would answer all their questions in advance so that I can get on with what is after all a gift from the goddess – having a good appetite.

Do you eat meat? Yes

Do you ever go on a fast? No

Do you eat refined starch? Yes

Do you eat more than two eggs a week? Yes. And bacon.

Do you like fast food? Yes

Do you eat refined food? Is salami a refined food? Then yes.

Butter or margarine? Whatever is in front of me… yes.

Do you add salt to your food? Yes. And black pepper.

Have you ever or would you ever eat at a (name the chain)? Yes

Do you avoid the company of people who don’t drink alcohol?… hang on, that’s a different questionnaire. Skip that one.

I have been identified as a food savage and this seems to challenge those who won’t eat anything with four legs, believe they have sophisticated palates or yes, own the Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook. Unless you have Coeliac disease you are unlikely to be gluten intolerant. You are just following the herd. Hang on, is herd okay in this context?

Please don’t lean over me as I cut into my chop and tell me that animals suffer when slaughtered. Okay, pal, I am also told that plants scream when they are picked or cut. What are we supposed to do by way of sustenance, stand in an orchard and hope the fruit drops into the baskets we just happen to have handy?

The myths and legends include some weird justification stuff. You know the one about you should only eat meat if you are prepared to shoot it yourself? Right. That doesn’t go down too well in the urban jungle. Wandering down Long Street with your rifle doesn’t hang well with Mr Plod.

And how and when you eat is of no interest to anyone else. Two meals a day or six tiny ones or eating your last meal of the day before 6pm – it reminds us of the Sixties when we believed that eating standing up caused you to lose weight. That and having a grapefruit before every meal. Does anyone still do that any more?

Tony and I had a restaurant in Sutherland where lamb was our speciality. People came to us to eat sheep. One evening a man came in sheepishly (okay, I meant it) before service and asked how our meat was slaughtered.

“You don’t by any chance shoot them do you?” he asked. “My daughters learned at school that the most humane way to kill animals is to shoot them yourself, it’s better than at the abattoir. Quicker. They won’t eat meat otherwise.”

I wanted to say that if I was a sheep hanging about in a field and somebody walked up to me and shot me I would be pretty damn upset, but I just replied that our lamb came to us in the regular way, via the butchery. Perhaps THEY shot them, I suggested?

Either way, I never saw him again.

It is a pleasure to find yourself at a table where people do not have an unhealthy relationship with food. If it is your choice to eat only vegetables, fine, but shut up about it already.

Tony and I were invited to the roof wetting of the Palace of the Lost City – that’s the event sort of before the walls have gone up and the carpets put down. We were part of a large contingent of journalists bused in from all over the place but we got separated from them. Pink drinks in tall glasses will do that to you.

We were put at a table with a party of serious gamblers, the sort Sol Kerzner and his team wanted to cultivate. Conversation was a little stilted for a while until the MC announced the arrival of the first course: soup tureens delivered to our tables by gorgeous, half-naked women and sprinkled with gold leaf. The soup that is, not the women, although they were pretty blinged up too.

The woman to the left of me watched the soup being delivered and then uttered the immortal line: “MY GARRRRRD what is he going to do for the opening? Slaughter the naked maidens?”

Ice was broken as we wondered whether the gold leaf would stay in our bodies for longer than the black pepper and whether this would ensure long life or a swift but gilded end.

Life is good and food is at the centre of it. Just enjoy the stuff, whatever you prefer to eat.

And remember, there were no food preferences on the menu when Mafeking was under siege. DM


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