12.018 A Nice Roasted Elephant with Onions and Brown Gravy


23 (Sat) January 2021

A Nice Roasted Elephant with Onions and Brown Gravy


by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

Newbery 100 Medals, 100 Meals (32) (see 100 NEWBERY M&Ms)

While reading the 99 books that have been awarded the annual Newbery Medal since 1922 – leading up to the 100th winner to be announced next year – I will also attempt to create one dish for every book, a dish that is directly referenced in or indirectly inspired by the events of the book.  Food plays a strong role in many of the stories; not surprising as the characters in most of the books are faced with adversity of some sort, including poverty, so they’re often very hungry and thus grateful whenever they get a bite to eat – as we all should be at every meal, literally give us this day our daily bread.  The dishes will be featured as posts on Give Me This Day.

Thimble Summer (1939) by Elizabeth Enright, illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush.  The book is about 9-year-old Garnet Linden, who finds a silver thimble in a riverbed and believes it to be a good luck charm that leads to various fortuitous events that summer: rains that end the drought on their farm, winning a blue ribbon for her hog at the state fair, etc.

It was a pleasant, if otherwise simplistic, read.  Though set during the Great Depression, the story is upbeat, owing to the ever-positive outlook of the protagonist, and well-paced in its episodic structure.

[paraphrased in part]

By and by Garnet climbed up on top of the machine to see what Mr Freebody was doing.  His eyebrows and big mustache were full of chaff, and he looked like an old walrus that had got mixed up with some seaweed. 

“I could eat an elephant,” he told Garnet, “a nice roasted elephant with onions and brown gravy.  In fact, I think an elephant’s the only thing that would be enough of a meal to satisfy me now.”

Garnet laughed.  “We aren’t having it though,” she said.  “Our butcher doesn’t carry it.  But we have got five different kinds of pie: apple, peach, blueberry, lemon, and butterscotch!”

Mr Freebody closed his eyes for a minute and sighed as if this was too much for him.  “Next to roast elephant I like pie best of all,” he said.

Fortunately, elephant chops were on sale at our local supermarket.

First, I brined the chops in a saline solution for an hour to ensure that they would stay juicy – elephant meat can get a bit dry when roasted.  To seal the juices in and add flavor, I browned the chops in butter in a pan, then broiled them in the oven for half an hour, adding onion rings in the final 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, in the pan that I had used for browning, I made a gravy with beef stock – should’ve made the roux darker to achieve “brown gravy” – which I poured over the chops before serving.

It was good.

Come to think of it, this could very well have been a Swedish dish.  The pan gravy is something that I initially learned as a sauce for Swedish meatballs (see most recently 12.015 Köttbullar with Tagliatelle in Beef Gravy).  Elephant meat is very popular in Scandinavia, especially in southern Sweden, in cities like Uppsala, where lindebarn elefant gryta (baby elephant casserole) is a regional delicacy.  Garnet might’ve had Swedish ancestry: in light of her family name Linden, which is a common Swedish surname; her home state of Wisconsin, where many Swedish immigrants settled; and her blonde hair, which is the official hair color of Sweden.  I should’ve served the dish with lingonberry jam.

(See also FOODS.)

(See also PLACES.)

5 thoughts on “12.018 A Nice Roasted Elephant with Onions and Brown Gravy

  1. “Elephant meat is very popular in Scandinavia, especially in southern Sweden, in cities like Uppsala, where lindebarn elefant gryta (baby elephant casserole) is a regional delicacy”….
    I’m pretty sure that sentence is a so called “framing” (as explained by you in the comments for a post from the former blog, not yet migrated as far as I know: http://project365ki.blogspot.com/2013/08/4234-okrkl10-mapo-jinjja-wonjo-choidepo.html#comment-form).

    To be honest, I actually tried to Google if there actually was a dish like that… And if some kind of cut of pork is called “elefant chop” (or something similar) in other parts of Sweden. You really got me there 😉

    Speaking of the name, apperently only 118 people have “Linden” as their surname, “Lindén” being much more popular, with over 6000 people using it. (its actually the surname of a Finnish friend of mine, one who’s family was Swedish-speaking a couple of generations ago).

    1. That’s so unbelievable that you remember the thing about “framing”!! the elephant thing wasn’t really meant that way, since i had no idea how you’d respond. it was just a joke, aimed entirely at you, so i’m glad you fell for it.

      i actually did mean Lindén, but just wrote it “Linden” without the accent aigu, as Americans are wont to do, sorry – I’m sure that many Lindens in America were originally Lindéns but eventually dropped the accent. i remember you teaching me that accents in Swedish, like ö, are critical, so I’m always careful to spell “köttbullar” properly.

      1. I had actually just read that post of the former site when I read this post, so I had it fresh in my mind 😀
        Not to be pedantic (even though I am), would “å” “ä” and “ö” actually be considered “accents”? They are considered separate letters in the Swedish alphabet (actually, the last three, so “A to Z” is “A to Ö” in Sweden).

  2. i never realized that the swedish alphabet does in fact have “extra” letters. i was assuming you just added the diaeresis or umlaut as accents, like how the french have the basic E but add the accent aigu or grave or whatever. that’s why “kottbullar” would be a complete misspelling. i get it.

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