Title: Sport 39: 2011

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2013, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 39: 2011

Kate McKinstry

page 306

Kate McKinstry

My first husband

We ate a dégustation meal, nine courses. Matching glasses filled
with wine, something French like joie de vivre.
Cold sherry, salted cod pressed firm. I confessed well-travelled
as our second course arrived. Cervena

battened out, carpaccio-thin slivers, herbed and truffled, sliced,
frozen spheres of semi-dried tomato sorbet.
We shared a glass of rosé from the Barossa, eating whitebait panfried
in beurre noisette, sugar

snap peas and celeriac purée. Chardonnay moistened our lips,
loosened tongues and we remembered
the nineties, the ways we reinvented ourselves when we were still
modern. The evening’s romance

suggested we drink something purple—borscht. Full, earthy, cold.
Fragrant basil oil floated, and
another glass. There were three slender slices, cooked medium-rare,
Hawkes Bay shortloin

and I probably told you about pet lambs I fed late-winter, to eat
come Christmas. And because
I’d told you about the lambs, I’d have told you about turkey-bashing
expeditions, chain gangs

in the tractor shed, heading, slicing, gutting, dipping, plucking, and
bagging, and the smell of
freshly eaten grass, so when the duck farcé arrived perfectly formed
as meatloaves with roast daikon

page 307 you’d have been glad I’d stopped talking. Another glass of wine with
talleggio cheese and peach
compôte signalling a final approach. You cleansed your palate
with Granny Smith sorbet,

lemongrass syrup. You felt your moment nearing, the grand finale of
your question. Nutmeg
brulée, Valrhona mousse, raspberry coulis, a single scoop of vanilla
ice cream, and my no. It was nearly

a perfect dinner. Later at the bar, I saw him dancing. I left you to
           admire his
pale blue suit and walking stick.
I asked if he was married. I had to check. I had to check. The time
           was right
for him to marry me.

page 308

Advice from the hospital kitchen

Alma said: In Canada I never heard of mutton on the market.
        Never saw it anywhere.
        Geoffrey says mutton should be properly handled.
        I wonder how any people fry chops
        and have them tender as chicken.

Sheela said: Indian sweets are plumped with sugar, condensed milk,
        clarified butter. Not for the faint at heart,
        or folks with cholesterol.
        Prepare your ghee by simmering unsalted butter,
        boiling away any water and spoon it off for cooking.

Gracie said: When you’re preparing school gala cream puffs
        to impress the PTA,
        a hot oven is the trick. Choux pastry rises
        because of steam. Without it, your puffs will be
        flat and soggy.

Barb said: I’d heard there was a law from 1789 that says
        you won’t be arrested
        if you steal less than 10 francs worth of food.
        That’s three baguettes! No need to go hungry
        when you’re down and out in Paris.

Evie said: We had a hangi once, collected rocks from
        beach retaining walls.
        Dad coated the turkey in mud
        to bake. The crack of exploding
        sedimentary stones blew up
        all the dinner.

Lou said: Never double-dare your eight-year-old sister
        to order the lobster thermidor.
        She won’t eat it,
        its eyes are looking at her.

page 309 Maureen said: My brother learnt to cook in the army,
        came home on leave,
        cooked a banana cake, following the recipe.
        It wasn’t cooked in the forty-five minutes promised
        so he turned the dough out,
        started again.

Gwen said: When rain eased on a low tide
        we would carry billy cans, kindling
        and a buttered white loaf
        to the water’s edge, collecting pipi
        and make smoky sandwiches
        in our yellow rubber raincoats.

Lil said: Come for tea! Jim would love
        the company. Tonight
        I collected some puha on my walk
        and there’ll be missionary soup
        on the boil before you know it.
        Any time you’re hungry.

page 310

Semi-rural idyll

In the almost-country, morning opens home.
My sister is at the end
of the garden feeding chooks.

Rooster-hen crows in the coop,
struts her man-size, helps herself to a greater share.
My sister collects eggs into a bowl for
our kitchen and her cries call us running.

Half-hen, half-cock, the creature has drawn
blood before breakfast.

Our father will punish the offender, execute
the job with an axe on the stump
of a felled silver dollar tree. He will pluck and gut
prepare a broth with its body,
boil its bones for the length
of a day. We will sit as a family
eat its tough flesh with vegetables from the garden.

What will remain of the sacrifice, hung out to dry
on the netball hoop, a chicken leg with tendon and spur
which makes a thrilling show and tell at school.

There is no safe place in the food chain.
My sister and I will be given away from this house
sharing in the mutual good fortune
that our father has foretold
with the death of a man-hen.