28 April 2010

Calf's Foot Jelly

As a young and impressionable child I remember reading a story in which the main character (Pollyanna?) visited a neighbor with a gift of calf's foot jelly. I remember not knowing what calf's foot jelly might be, but thinking it sounded disgusting. It never occurred to me that I might one day be in a position to be the recipient of such a gift.

Last weekend an old friend and her daughter came by the house for a visit. I think I first met this woman when we were in kindergarten, long ago and far away. We sat next to each other in Mr. Vincent's class in sixth grade. We reconnected last year because of a high school reunion neither of us attended, when we discovered we have lived about 10 miles apart for the past 13 years or so. I've really enjoyed getting reacquainted. Her life and experience has been very different from mine, but we're still interested in a lot of the same things. She's exactly the person I would've expected the girl I once knew to grow up to be. I would've liked her even if we weren't already friends. Her daughter is a kick. We had a beautiful sunny afternoon to sit out on the back deck and catch up.

Which left me thinking about calf's foot jelly. After they left, I finally looked it up. According to Gourmet Britain ("your guide to the best of British gourmet food"), Calf's / Calves Foot Jelly is "a jelly made by making a stock that includes a calf's foot. This naturally sets when cold, and from Norman to Victorian times used to be popular as nourishment for invalids. The Normans considered it as a treat in normal life, flavouring it with pepper and saffron, or perhaps red wine, then decorating it with laurel leaves - then serving it at banquets." They add that "The calf's feet will probably have to be ordered."

I don't feel like an invalid. I'm hardly ever sick (if I could apply my knuckles to my wooden skull, I would be doing it now). Still, it seems like a visit with me must be like making a charitable visit to a sick neighbor, or a frail, elderly relative. Our visitors come in, we sit down, and we talk. If Scarecrow's not busy painting the new siding on the house we might remember to offer something to drink, or brownies if I managed to wheedle Tuffy into making some. That's pretty much it. We don't go any place or do anything. We just talk. I'm sure I find this way more entertaining than somebody who actually has life.

Still, if someone is willing to do this for me, I'm grateful. I try not to pounce on them and talk them to death, although I admit I'm still working on that. it's wonderful to talk to a real live person.

As long as they don't bring calf's foot jelly. I still think it sounds disgusting.


  1. Visits with non-pixelated people are good. I think sitting around chatting is an under-rated activity. Yet I too feel funny about offering not much more on most days.

    I have no comment about the calf's foot jelly except to note that prior to reading your post, I had made it 44 years in this world without knowing of its existence.

  2. Well now we know. If I were my mother, I would have brought something as a proper visitor but I have largely dispensed with such formalities... in favor of just sun and talk. I doubt that I will every ply you with jelly--of any type!