I continue to be deeply troubled by meat-eating. It never used to be a thing with me. I laughed at vegetarians - a lot. Silly people. Silly, silly. But in the last few years it's crept up on me, this horror of meat - accelerated by the arrival of my child, I'm sure (although having a baby hasn't made me a nicer person in any other regard; HM Revenue & Customs officials, John Lewis nursery department floor salesmen, Barclays Bank telephone banking jessies and National Health Service receptionists London-wide will attest).
What keeps coming back to me, again and again, is a bit in the Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. There are these horrible aliens, the name of which now escapes me, who live on a planet with these gorgeous sort of deer-creatures with shining eyes and angelic temperaments and have antlers made out of fine filigree - or something. And the horrible aliens treat these deer-creatures abysmally and kill them for meat and ride them until their backs break and eat their children and so on.
That's me - that's us. It's only really just occurred to me that that was the moral of the story. We are the disgusting aliens. And sometimes when I hear people talking about how they are going to cook meat I feel as revolted and perverted as if I'm listening to a conversation about how to cook and eat children, or people. How can you salivate over the cooking of a dead creature! It's so terrible! Isn't it? Isn't it awful? And wrong?
But I don't want to stop eating meat, because it's too complicated. My reasons are too pathetic. And I never, ever eat meat that hasn't had a better life than mine. I spend an extortionate amount of money on quality meat and I dress myself in rags. Does that make it alright? I just don't know.
Anyway, sorry. I'm sure a lot of you think this sort of soul-searching is boring and stupid. It's just taken me entirely by surprise. I just didn't think I was that kind of person.
Nothing troubles me more than veal, except lamb. And chickens I suppose. Buck buck buck! It's all awful. But we purchsed some (rose) veal escalopes from the farmer's market the other day from the Twelve Green Acres farm stand, which is a small organic farm in Dorset. http://www.12greenacres.co.uk/
We spend so much money there that the bloke practically breaks into a jig when we slope up, requesting this week's happiest and most indulged creature that died of natural causes for us to worship for a while before cooking ritually and eating while murmuring prayers.
Inspired by a recent trip to The Delauney, London's latest swankhole from Jeremy King and Chris Corbin (The Wolseley, The Ivy etc) we made veal schnitzel Holstein. Have I got that right? It's breaded veal escalope with a fried egg on top.
It goes like this.
2 veal escalopes (must cost at least £4bn each)
medium matzoh meal YOU CAN GET IT FROM WAITROSE but don't get one that is kosher for passover, which is swilling about at this time of year, because it is considerably more expensive than the normal stuff and you will be needing to watch your pennies having bought your veal
oil for frying
1 Set out three bowls, one with seasoned flour - and by this I mean heavily seasoned, three big pinches of salt, twelve turns of the pepper mill - one with the matzoh meal and one with two beaten eggs. Season the matzoh as well for good measure.
2 Dip the escalopes once in the flour, then in the egg and then in the matzoh. Set aside - I find I cake cooling rack most effective.
3 Heat up a lot of veg oil in a pan - about 1/2 a cm deep - preferably one that comes with a lid, until it is hot (but not smoking and going crazy) and fry the escalopes quickly, really just 2 minutes each side or less. Keep the lid hovering over the pan to stop your kitchen from smelling like the floor of a kebab van.
4 For the perfect fried egg, crack in the egg off the heat and fry gently - the egg ought never to pop or spit. Just as the edges of the egg look done, hover the lid again over the eggs so the steam cooks the top - that way you get a cooked albumen without having to flip the egg with yolk-breaking anxiety.
We ate it with broccoli. And a side order of GUILT.