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Ma and the Venison Steaks:

Uncle Brontosaurus was an avid hunter. In fact, in many respects Uncle Bronty was your quintessential mid-century “man’s man” with the exclusion of some of their more common vices. He never smoked, drank, swore, or chased women. In fact, he was a regular churchgoer, faithful to his wife and devoted to his mother.

He did, however, abandon his wife and daughters (and his mother) every autumn for close to 30 years in order to go off to kill deer. Despite his appalling eyesight, he was quite good at it. It was a rare year that he didn’t bag at least one, so he usually had venison in storage (for his family always ate his kills). In a particularly good year my cousins would get very tired of it.

One particularly good year he bagged the limit, and all three were well-grown. From this bounty, he gave Ma three of the most beautiful steaks I had ever seen.

I am told that the European aristocrats of the past — and for all I know, the present — prefer their game to taste gamy. Permit me to point out that Ma was not an aristocrat. She was very pleased and grateful for the gift, and fretted herself into a right state over what on earth she was going to do with them, for fear that whatever she did, they might end up tasting “wild”.

Finally she opted to barbecue them, and then went out and bought a bottle of barbecue sauce of a brand and type which she had never tried before. And, then, rather than stop to sample it first, she dumped it over the steaks and set them to marinade overnight in it.

It was awful.

That sauce was the nastiest stuff I had ever encountered. Even Dad, who, while he might flatly refuse to eat anything resembling mutton, would generally eat anything else that was set before him, protested. Since Ma herself couldn’t quite manage to choke it down either, she couldn’t even take refuge in her more typical stance that the dinner was perfectly all right, we were just being tiresome and ungrateful, or that it was the venison which was to blame. I still don’t know what a fine, wild venison steak tastes like.

I’m not ever likely to find out, either.