Livery

This is how the Free Online Dictionary defines livery:

1. A distinctive uniform worn by the male servants of a household.
2. The distinctive dress worn by the members of a particular group; uniform: ushers in livery.
3. The costume or insignia worn by the retainers of a feudal lord.
4.
a. The boarding and care of horses for a fee.
b. The hiring out of horses and carriages.
c. A livery stable.
5. A business that offers vehicles, such as automobiles or boats, for hire.
6. Law Official delivery of property, especially land, to a new owner.

Etymology: [Middle English liveri, from Old French livree, delivery, from feminine past participle of livrer, to deliver, from Latin lberre, to free, from lber, free; see leudh- in Indo-European roots.]

It’s a funny word. (Free) Delivery = rental (which is what servants and horses have in common in the definitions).

I wanted to title my post something clever about liver, and liverish is neither here nor there in my Sunday, referring as it does to being irritable or bilious. Not here. I’ve had one of my favourite kind of days, with maximum time in the kitchen, close to the oven. First I baked seed loaf (intending a nice wholewheat bread only to discover I had no more yeast), then almond and ginger biscotti, then my mother’s famous chicken liver pate, and now, finally, a shaggy yeast dough containing rosemary and candied orange peel is puffing itself into a righteous loaf of bread.

As in most things culinary, my mother makes her liver pate well done. The purists will no doubt frown: what, no soft pink interior? No layer of congealed fat on top?

Nope. Baked for almost an hour, with a lovely herby crust on top, and chunky bits of mushroom underneath, this stuff is the business. And I have never made it before. I’ve fried chicken livers before – almost crusty outside, with lots of onion and peri peri (just like mother does: perhaps well done is our livery) – but I realized today that I’m very inexperienced when it comes to “cleaning” a chicken liver. How do you know for sure that you’ve found, and gotten seriously rid of, that horrible green bitter stuff? It’s a strangely textured meat to navigate, because it is so silky smooth – quite disgustingly so, actually, but also quite soothingly. I expected myself to be more turned off handling the raw stuff than I was. Unlike most meat, this actually smells good raw.

But it smells SO much better when it’s been in the oven for 30 minutes or so, and the kitchen starts taking on its aromas. Imagine not being able to smell, and to remember through your nose. Today I smelled that chicken liver pate and I remembered 100 weekends in my childhood, and the days after, and the months later, when a bowl would emerge out of the freezer and go back into the oven to remind us of those months before…

I just hope this one tastes as good.

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One response to “Livery”

  1. mother

    the perfect look – why did it take you so many years ?

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