Thursday, October 8, 2009

Food: The Other Side (Part 1)

If you looked up a dictionary, the entry under food would read something like this:

any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.

But, of course, you don't not need to look up a dictionary for that - after all, we know that food is something that nurtures life. We approach food with that thought - sustaining life and enriching it. As we cook, our thoughts are nutrition, taste, aroma, variety and the like. The clanging of pots and pans, the medley of various ingredients, the steps of a recipe - all coming together to create well - balanced, tasty meals.

Consider, however, a situation where food doesn't nurture life. Consider a situation where it claims lives instead. Or becomes the reason for life to be snuffed out.

Everything was automatic now-down the steps to the cellar, the light switch, the deep freeze, the hand inside the cabinet taking hold of the first object it met. She lifted it out, and looked at it. It was wrapped in paper, so she took off the paper and looked at it again.

A leg of lamb.

All right then, they would have lamb for supper. She carried it upstairs, holding the thin bone-end of it with both her hands, and as she went through the living-room, she saw him standing over by the window with his back to her, and she stopped.

“For God’s sake,” he said, hearing her, but not turning round. “Don’t make supper for me. I’m going out.”

At that point, Mary Maloney simply walked up behind him and without any pause she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head.She might just as well have hit him with a steel club.She stepped back a pace, waiting, and the funny thing was that he remained standing there for at least four or five seconds, gently swaying. Then he crashed to the carpet.

The violence of the crash, the noise, the small table overturning, helped bring her out of he shock. She came out slowly, feeling cold and surprised, and she stood for a while blinking at the body, still holding the ridiculous piece of meat tight with both hands.

All right, she told herself. So I’ve killed him.

- Roald Dahl, Lamb to the Slaughter

'They were on the point, therefore, of drawing lots on the raft when the doctor's voice was heard:"Mesdames and Messieurs," said the doctor,"You have lost all your belongsings in the wreck of the ship, but I have saved my case of instruments and my forceps for arresting haemorrhage. This is my suggestion:There is no object in any one of us running the risk of being eaten as a whole. Let us, to begin with, draw lots of an arm or leg at will, and we will then see tomorrow what the day brings forth,and perhaps a sail may appear on the horizon." '
- Gaston Leroux, A Terrible Tale

As you would've guessed, the above are extracts from - and thank god for that - some brilliant short stories compiled in an unlikely collection of short stories titled Murder on Menu. Edited by Peter Haining, this anthology has stories mixing food and well, death - some decidedly gruesome, some nauseating, others devilishly amusing. In either case, this 'gourmet guide to death' shows food laid out on a completely different table.

A word of advice though....don't read it before or immediately after meals!

Sending this to Sra's event, The Write Taste.


  1. Oh Wow! Aqua, thanks for this. I love the first story, esp the ending - like a perfect murder. I read it a long time ago but I remember the words. Didn't know about the second one, though. I like your choices.

  2. Actually I love both quotes and for the advice (experience talks :)

  3. I like the bit where she served the lamb to the investigating officer :) How have you been?

  4. Oh certainly serve up 'food for thot' here! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love your space here....I shall bookmark you for sure! Looks like some real good recipes too....I will return!

  5. Oh my... I liked reading the story.. I was a bit confused at first.. which happens easily with me..

  6. @Dee, I was about to say that, and didn't want to give the suspense away! Ha ha!

  7. Nice one aqua. Very apropos entry for the event. For some reason that escapes me, I have never read Roald Dahl. I will look it up.
    BTW, Dee, thank you for giving the suspense away.

  8. Great post!

    I totally love "Lamb to the Slaughter" and all of Dahl's stories, really, and am hoping I find this story collection in the public library.


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