A Salting Tale II

A belated bonne année to you all. Again I’ve shamefully neglected this blog for what seem to me to be very good reasons. A nasty virus crept up on me over the festive season and I found it difficult to write when breathing like a pair of worn out bellows and wiping away something akin to mushy cabbage emanating from nasal passages. Yuk indeed!

The other reason, after recuperation was an absolute determination to sign off The Book. ‘Tis done. V6.2 completes about twelve months of indecision, wavering, rewrites and rewrites of rewrites. It is going to lie fallow now until April when the pro editor gets her mitts on it.  I’m happy to bid farewell to inscrutable Oskar, wicked Ombrine and the neurotic Richard…for a while anyway.

That done, it was time to turn my attention to the large lump of pork entombed in salt in the garage. (If you missed the first exciting episode go A Salting Tale immediately!) The time had arrived to lift the lid of the saltière to see what lurked within. Gingerly I scraped off a little of the salt. A dark, sullen red patch appeared. I gave it a poke – firm but still with a bit of give. OK it was still undoubtedly dead. The squidgy smelly mess that I had imagined was still a figment of my imagination. Time to call in the expert, James, or Jams as he announces himself. Jams came, inspected and pronounced. “Parfait, c’est prêt a partir.” Good to go.

We lifted the ham onto a large stainless steel platter and carried it ceremoniously to the kitchen table. There we gave it a dry rub down until all traces of salt were removed and relocated to the kitchen floor. About a ton of freshly ground black pepper was vigorously massaged into the ham’s now liver-coloured flesh. This we followed up with an aromatic dusting of herbes de Provence – a mixture of rosemary, thyme, marjoram and oregano.

jams-and-jambon

Once Jams was satisfied he prodded and poked at – sorry I haven’t a technical term of this – the thin end to find the hole that the thoughtful butcher had skewered ready to push a hook through. Said hole duly uncovered Jams threaded a cord since the only hooks I possess are for pictures and tied a complex series of knots probably known only to those in the innermost circles of home-cured ham.

Maintenant, le filet” Jams breathed. I produced the net in which the ham will spend its next few months. James slipped it over the ham as though he were encasing one of his wife’s shapely legs into a fishnet stocking.

jambon-peppered

That completed all was tied tight and the ham transferred to its final resting place in the barn where it will hang until my brother gets his mitts on it in a few months. The net should keep the nasties away but I have noticed the neighbour’s cat casing the joint…as it were. I wonder who will get there first?