Shakespeare may be well revered for many things, but in The Merchant of Venice when one “takes a pound of flesh” by means of payment, it shouldn’t be a method of payment henceforth. The phrase has morphed to mean an unreasonable punishment. Such a punishment may not be exacted literally anymore, but the sense that one can be left threadbare from a punishing experience still exists.
Living with a traumatic experience of any kind can be punishing to someone. But what is trauma? An experience that is beyond the individual’s ability to cope and not feel suffering. A stubbed toe for a child. A lack of gadgetry in a hyper-hormonal teen. A job that takes every skill from the individual with disregard for personal well-being until one is stripped of identity. A soldier who witnesses atrocities against others unfit for human or animal.
Take a pound of flesh.
In an attempt to replace that pound, one may try various means to fill that hole. Toys in a child. Gossip in a teen. Addiction in a soldier. Or feeding.
I see a pound of flesh as a means to share. To try to reclaim the phrase as a way to minimize suffering. To gather that pound of flesh, mould it into something more to bring together others who hunger and feed in a more positive way.
That pound of flesh becomes an opportunity to share. Not a punishment. Making a loaf. The staple of life throughout history. Stripping life to its core requires a meal befitting of that. Meatloaf.
2 tsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
1 tsp salt
3-4 slices whole wheat bread, torn into chunks
1/2 cup chicken stock
450g/1 lb Sunshine Organic Farm ground beef
450g/1 lb Sunshine Organic Farm ground pork
3 Sunshine Organic Farm large eggs
1 Tbsp salt
3/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 180C/350F
In a small pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and salt and stir periodically over the course of 25-30 minutes, reducing the heat gradually until the onions become deeply golden in colour and soft. Set aside in a large bowl to cool.
Tear up the whole wheat bread slices into rough chunks. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven for 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and pour over the chicken stock. Allow to sit for 15 minutes to allow the stock to soak into the toasted bread. Squeeze out the excess stock and reserve the hydrated bread chunks.
When the onions are cool, add the ground beef, pork and soaked bread chunks.
Add the eggs and salt and work all the ingredients together into a homogeneous mixture. Gradually add the dried breadcrumbs until the mixture firmly binds without being too stiff. Split the mixture into two portions and place each portion into two 15cm x 25cm (6″ x 10″) loaf pans. I prefer to use one disposable foil loaf pan so one can go into the freezer for a future meal, but if you’re cooking for a large family or group just bake both in traditional loaf pans.
Place the loaf pans on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until the egg and natural fats from the meat form what I like to call a “meat custard.” This is when the heat of the meatloaf has come to a point where a small corner of the loaf develops a custard like sheen as seen below: