A Quail of a time

So I’ll crack back into Part Two of last week’s rant then hey?

Exercise is a tricky concept for many people. Questions such as, “What do I do?” or “where do I start?” Or excuses like, “My back’s no good”, “But I’ve got dicky knees” are all very common problems that could have been avoided and rectified. The solution would be to use a trainer who knows what they’re talking about (this is the ideal situation), to get into regular resistance training to build lean muscle and get strong. This is crucial. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Keep it simple with these movements: squat, lunge, bend, push and pull. Do what you can, start with your own body weight  and aim to progress as you get stronger. It is important to note that High intensity training (such as stair running, sprint 1 minute/walk 1 minute. 20 minutes at a high intensity should be enough) needs to be included in order to have a positive effect on a healthy body composition.  However your body needs to be able to handle this, so getting strong in order to prevent injuries is a must.

I’ll get more specific with this as we chew our way through the weeks – and the meats.

The fitter, leaner and stronger you are, the healthier you are and the healthier you can become. Having low overall body fat is a major player in someone’s health. Having strong muscles, bones and connective tissue are crucial to being a healthy person, especially as we age. Proper resistance training plays a big and important part in this.

And so does food.

I recall reading of the experiences of a former US Surgeon General (whose name I cannot remember nor can I locate the source which does piss me off.) But, I wanted to share this. (Bad start on the referencing, I know, I know.) The Surgeon General said that when he started his career as a young surgeon after the First World War, to cut through ligaments and tendons he required a saw and substantial effort. However, after seeing highly processed and nutritionally poor food take over his country’s dietary intake, by the time he finished his career many decades later, he argued that to cut through most people’s connective tissue was like taking a hot knife to butter. That, to me, is pretty frightening and is indicative of the kind of rubbish food most people eat. No wonder so many people have ‘bad knees’ and ‘crook backs’, they’re made of rubbish. Or in other words, to quote a mentor of mine, “you can’t make chicken salad from chicken shit”.

Unnecessary stress on the other hand is also no good. That’s hardly ground breaking news, but so many people are stressed, a lot of the time. It has a massive negative effect on many things, including sleep. The hormonal response in the body from constant and long-term unnecessary stress is slowly making us unhealthy and fat.

My main piece of advice here would be: take control of your time and dictate when you leave the office and get to bed, make time to chill the f*ck out and enjoy your life and the things you’ve worked so hard for. Importantly, try and do things that scare or exhilarate you from time to time. You might start to drastically change the hormonal balance in your body for the better and actually start sleeping well, feeling better, have more energy and lose some weight.

Ahem, anyway…

I’ve had a bit of an interesting week, on the meat and blog front. The feedback has been good, and convincing enough to upload another cheesy photo… On Tuesday I had a call from Dave the Butcher at The Butcher And The Chef which is where I have been getting my meat thus far. (NB: They are situated inside Harris Farm in Potts Point, and they also have a store in Manly). This phone call led to 3 more in the space of 10 minutes whereupon I requested a great variety of meats. Some diligent work from Dave ensued as he then attempted to source these meats (and we’re talking the sublime to the ridiculous here: Camel, Emu, Possum, Wallaby, Snake…) from their supplier. This group of calls was ended with Dave saying “the owner has just told me to get a list from you, whatever it is, we’ll get it and store it for whenever you need it”. Ideal!

So, Thursday rolled around and I went to the butcher to see what they had come up with. I was hoping for an eclectic collection for me to choose from. I approached the counter in the usual way and then began with “Hi, ah, I’d spoken to Dave…”. Before I could continue the young guy cut me off and somewhat excitedly replied with “Mike?” Clearly they ‘know me’ now at The Butcher And The Chef. We then chatted about what had actually been ordered in, and in the process, my eye wandered to the wall where I saw a rather large note pinned up. In A4 sheet with black marker pen the note stated “Before any order is made- call Mike Campbell”. Maybe I need a batman torch. Another one anyway. Obviously they do know me. I fear I’m becoming the annoying guy that hangs out at the butcher (I don’t hang out at the butcher. In case you were wondering. I have window shopped on occasion, however). While I’m waiting on word I try, and subsequently buy, some handmade Sardinian Salami. Wow, that was some tasty stuff.

And it turns out they have Quails in. Nothing else was really happening with the list I gave Dave. I think the company that ‘will get anything’ (not the butcher, their supplier), was having trouble getting, well, anything… Who cares, I’ll cook some quails. Never had them before, only their eggs, in what was possibly the single most impressive unintentional animal take down I’ve been involved with.

I was in Budapest and found an all you can eat Hungarian buffet. I went a little loopy and ate myself to a standstill. Literally. I had to go home after it and lie down. Uncomfortable. However, upon finishing my meal (realising I just couldn’t stomach anymore), I did a tally of the ‘animals’ I’d just eaten and it totalled a ridiculous 8. This did irk me as if I’d thought about it I could’ve easily made double digits. I took down about 5 marinated duck breasts alone. (For the curious, I devoured lamb shank, venison, beef, duck, turkey, chicken, quail egg and pig. This also included ham, pork and bacon. It makes me sweat thinking about it again).

This time, however, it would be a few small birds. They were butterflied and marinated with a couple of spices, and at only $4.50 a pop, to ask the butcher to de-bone, at peak time as well, seemed a bit much. Even for Mike Campbell… Although he did tell me a story about his dad de-boning one through the cavity at culinary school in the 70’s without breaking the skin. That’s pretty cool. Even more so as I bet he had a moustache at the time.

So I followed his advice of firing up the pan and attacking them skin side down until a crispy skin had formed. He suggested I flip them and kept an eye on them until they look, ah, good enough to eat. Easy enough. And they were good enough to eat, luckily, as I was hungry. I drizzled the quail birds with a dressing of lime juice, apple caramelised balsamic, fresh garlic and olive oil (hmmm, sounds very similar to the crocodile marinade… don’t judge me) and they were ready to be eaten, albeit slowly…

This is how it went; they looked pretty good, but my nagging child’s voice (the one that prevented me from eating anything that required a lot of effort as a child) was letting me know that they looked way too annoyingly delicate and fidgety to eat.

Coincidentally that’s exactly what happened. They were tasty, but hard to deal with. I had to exercise, as best I could, restraint and take my time. Which, of course, is all part of the experience of eating a quail.

But I think, in the end, the fiddling outweighed the tastiness for me.  This would not make for good first date eating.

I started at the legs and did my delicate best, but for the first time in my life, or not the first time, (I can’t quite decide which joke works best here, too much quail perhaps), I couldn’t wait to get to the breasts. Boom, dad joke for everyone to enjoy!

Overall, it was an interesting experience this week with the purchasing, cooking and eating of some little quails. They certainly cook easily and quickly, so if you happen to have some around and you are hungry and possibly without any suitable meal options, then they’ll be ready to go in no time. Unless, you decide to de-bone through the cavity without breaking the skin. That sounds like it’ll take ages.

Next time I think I’ll go for just the breasts and perhaps make some little quail kebabs. Yum. The whole bird, however, for now, is sitting at Number 3, below the crocodile and the duck. Haven’t decided on their order yet, croc at Number 1 I think, for now. Can’t get that at a Hungarian all you can eat buffet though…

Keep the questions coming. Dig into the meat. And get amongst it with the resistance training this week. You know, if you want to be strong, lean and healthy…

More to come next week, what will it be? Off to the butcher right now actually…