September 26, 2017

Mark Shea: Liver and Onions and the Glory of God

Could use some more bacon grease!

I love liver and onions. I do declare it to all the world.

You take some bacon grease—bacon grease, blast it, not wimpy corn oil—and heat it on a frying pan. Then you take your onion (sliced or chopped. We are not savages and permit a certain democratic variety here). Be generous. Stinting on onions is a sign of the same insane satanic parsimony that gave the world 2% Chocolate Milk and Diet Pizza. For the love of God, if you are going to abstain, then abstain; and if you are going to indulge, then indulge. These half measures are lies from the pit of hell.

Anyway, toss the onions in to sizzle, and stir them about constantly till they caramelize just slightly past the moment when they seem to be burning. This is wisdom and perfection such as Solomon would approve. Trust me on this. My wisdom is rooted in my longmother’s and goes back to the roots of our race.

When they are done, Scrape them on to your plate. They are grace that will presently elevate mere nature to glory.

Then, get some more bacon grease. (You may need to strategically eat bacon the morning of your planned liver and onion debauch to make sure you have adequate supplies. Insufficient quantities of bacon grease are now known to be the cause of most of the wars of history and to have played a major role in triggering the Great Depression, so do your part for humanity and get ready.)

Plop the second round of bacon grease on the pan and reflect on your prudence and thrift in using all of the pig and not just chucking this melting elixir of joy in the trash. Truly, you are a better person than the rest of them.

Now lay your precious blobbly strips of liver on the pan and make sure they are flat and evenly heated. Do not neglect to pour the yummy, delicious blood in the container all over the pan.

Here, of course, we touch on a point of controversy as we Aussies and Americans rightly say (or controversy as the English mysteriously mispronounce the word). After sharing an amused moment as two colonial peoples who enjoy snickering at the foibles of the Motherland, let us now ponder this matter of eating blood. For many, the response is a visceral aesthetic reaction: EWWWW!!!

Consider this: it is a reaction found throughout the human race toward different “taboo” foods. Some regard insect larvae as a tasty treat, others are repelled. Some like brains or that delicacy called “Rocky Mountain Oysters” (look them up). Others recoil. In the case of the Jewish people, things like pork (derived from an animal of filthy habits) were seen as too gross to touch. And so, as we watch the blood sizzle in the pan, we suddenly bridge a cultural gap as we discover we are not sophisticated moderns who have outgrown the savage taboos of the Bronze Age, but are merely people with a different set of taboos than ancient Jews. For this enlightenment, you are welcome.

What is also worth noting is what the ancient Jews did with their taboos under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: namely, they spiritualized them. They saw in the image of food too gross to eat an image of sin too gross to allow into their lives. They saw in the image of leprosy the image of sin too corrupting to touch. They saw in the image of mildew and blood and running sores images of the ruining, contagious nastiness of sin. It’s not a hard connection to make and indeed, we still make it all the time, which is why we speak of racism as a “cancer on society” or abortion as a “plague” or of the “moral pollution” of the media or of something being a “bloody sin.”

But, of course, it is possible to get things backward to and attach moral stigmas to food, as though food is the reality and not the likeness. That is why Jesus declared all foods clean and reminded us that it is not what goes into the belly that defiles, but what come out of the heart. The kingdom of heaven is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, who gave you liver and blood to eat once they have been properly fried in bacon grease and smothered in sautéed onions and salted.

Note that as you have been pondering these deep spiritual truths revealed to you through the gift of liver and onions and blood, that the liver and blood have both fried up nicely and are ready to be turned. Take your spatula and do so, flipping the whole kit and kaboodle on to its back to sizzle evenly on the other side. Now may be a good time to set the table, lighting candles for a lovely winter repast with your sweetie. If you have no sweetie, you may want to open the doors and windows, risking a momentary wintry blast of air since the smell of liver and onions is a well-known aphrodisiac. That is why I say “risking” for the thunder of hundreds of approaching feminine feet is something every man dares whenever he cooks liver and onions. It is how I won my bride in a competition with a hundred Odyssean suitors. But that is a tale for another time.

Assuming that you have already won your bride, setting a lovely winter table with a bottle of red wine and candles is an excellent way to tell her “I love you” and, of course, serving her liver and onions instead of giving in to temptation and simply making her watch while you hog them to yourself is the way to incarnate the self-sacrificial Christ-like love that husband owes wife.

If you are a father (an extremely likely thing for all red-blooded masculine lovers of liver and onions) it is up to you as to when to introduce your children to the inner mysteries of liver and onions. Many children are strangely reluctant to approach them. This is understandable. The High Priest could only approach the Holy of Holies once a year, so a certain reticence in the presence of the Awesome is only appropriate. Perhaps your little ones are too young. In that case, some mac and cheese will tide them over as you and your bride share the Great Feast.

But, of course, the day must come when the rising generation must be granted access to the glory of liver and onions. Do so with grateful prayer to the Giver of all good gifts. Liver and onions are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. For this and for all things, let us give thanks through Christ our Lord.

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