SECRETS OF THE CHUTNEY
Secrets of the Chutney
And so this is Christmas,
or the Saturnalia
or the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun,
and as the Sun wheels thru the Summer sky towards its appointment with the Solstice, the Reverend Hellfire retires to the kitchen to perform his annual gastronomical tribute to the Summer Festive Season, which is to say,
it’s time to cook up the Annual batch of his legendary,
mouth-watering Mango Chutney.
Sourcing his luscious, sun-ripened mangoes from the feral Mango Trees that infest every other backyard and vacant lot
in his sub-tropical suburb, the Reverend uses an old Queensland recipe that he has been refining and tweaking for over thirty years. Now he proudly boasts that his secret recipe produces the World’s Greatest Chutney! Those who have tasted of this precious elixir seldom disagree, and those that do are usually struck by the Gods with a disfiguring disease for their impiety.
Be that as it may, after gathering the Harvest the Rev then spends the next 48 hours prepping, slow-cooking and bottling the mysterious brew to perfection in his secret laboratory. With the addition of an endearingly naive label,
the jars of sun-ripened goodness are ready to be distributed to friends and family, followers and folks in general who have helped the Rev on his path over the previous year. But to tell the Truth, those who have shown kindness and friendship are usually so numerous, that there are alas, never enough jars, it seems, to go around. (Be patient, perhaps next year you’ll make the list!)
Indeed, it often seems a small thing to pay people back for all their help, with a mere jar of chutney. But it is made with Love and Care, and shared with a simple Sincerity, so perhaps that gives it some worth after all. Plus it tastes like the Heavens’ Own Condiment!
“If the Gods made anything that tastes better, “
boasts the Rev in his unguarded moments,
“They kept it for themselves”.
Sunday Sermons are now proud to present the actual lab notes from this years “cook”. Feel free to take notes.
3.03.33pm..the Chutney brew is simmering as I add the “seeding agent”- the last dollop of 2015’s chutney (carefully preserved in a jar at the back of the fridge) to activate the process, rather in the way yogurt makers will keep a yogurt culture alive from batch to batch.
I stir and croon, croon and stir..
“Who’s a good little chutney? Who’s going to be perfect??,” I coo and murmur in reassuring tones,
cajoling the spirit of the Chutney..
(oh yes, if the Chutney had toes I’d be down on the floor
tickling the plump, sticky, little digits right this moment).
“Are you coddling the Chutney again!!” my Personal Assistant demanded severely, interrupting my reverie.
“You’ll make it too sweet again, like you did in ‘Ought Eight’!”,
she warned, referring to the unfortunate occasion when she felt impelled to add an “heroic” emergency dose of Vinegar to the brew, in an effort to, as she put it, “prevent serious cloying”.
The result satisfied no-one and generally speaking we don’t speak of that year’s Mango Chutney, or as it has sometimes
been called, “the Black Batch”.
“Fear not gentle maiden!” I assured her, “this batch will stand on its own legs! It may even, to use a rather hirstute figure of speech, grow hairs on your chest. (I added an extra chilly to each jar)”.
Somewhat alarmed, my PA stepped back to observe with folded arms as I added the final Mystery Ingredient–Sugar!
Soon the brew starts to change colour, becoming darker, richer as swirls of caramelisation gyrate and gimble, blending subtly and surrealistically to perfection in the pot.
Slowly I sift the sweet, sweet sugar in, sugar both raw and refined, with just a dollop of honey, bit by bit it trickles in , that I might judge to a nicety that perfect balance betwixt sweet and sour, the ancient alchemical Yin and Yang of the Great Chutney Cycle!…
Midnight. I stir and sweat, sweat and stir,
beads of perspiration run down my face and plop gently
into the brew,adding a lick of salt
and a tincture of the authors’ DNA to the Mix.. A strange alchemy is occurring here- deep within the ingredients are busy networking throughout their social swirl; swapping phone numbers, trading make-up secrets, exchanging genetic material in nightclubs..
A Happy Blending is occurring wherein each ingredient remains true to its own substance while it yet becomes a part of the GreaterWhole.
Each contributes to the Sum that is Greater than its Parts yet maintains its unique Identity in the process. The result is a substance at one with itself, yet far from homogeneous.
The hard edges dissolve in a warm wash of good feeling.
Indeed, it occurs to me that my humble Chutney might be in fact a Mighty Metaphor, the End result being hopefully like what you’d like to achieve in the social engineering field when trying to create the perfect “Multi-Cultural Society”.
Could my Chutney promote greater Social Harmony, I speculated, by providing, by analogy, a recipe for a better Cosmopolitan Society, where citizens know how to
interact with the other Ingredients
while keeping their own cultural identity as a discrete element,
developing the Cosmopolite’s ability
to mind their own business
without losing their curiosity?
Mango Chutney. Saving the World, one jar at a time.
SPECIAL THANKS to our number one fan, “Big Dave” for sourcing this year’s mangoes!
Authors Note; At the insistence of my PA and
local Health Officials, I must officially state that I don’t literally add sweat to my chutney-that was mere artistic license. In reality this condiment contains no human by-products.
The Reverend Hellfire is a practised performance Poet,
President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity,
and an Ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism
AND the Church of the Universe.
(Still looks good in fishnet stockings.)
~ by reverendhellfire on January 2, 2017.