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Meatloaf and the snow leopard.

First day of summer. I gazed out the 1940s timber sash window at the front of the house, looking to the north, and realised that that framed piece of landscape is now arched by a crepe myrtle on one side and a six-foot Queen Elizabeth flowering rose on the other, and the arch meets in the middle creating a church-window vista of stained glass reality.

Not by accident. That view was planned seventeen years ago. To build a garden, and hence a series of revealed vistas, you need patience. The previous night I had taken Alex to see The Velvet Queen (more accurately La Panthère des Neiges) at Cinema Nova and explorer/hermit Munier had declared that patience is mankind's highest virtue.

I gazed out the window thinking about taking patience to its ultimate end, such as blundering around the roof of the world for three months looking for an animal that might eat you in three minutes, the aroma from the kitchen crept up the hallway: meatloaf in the oven.


They have been packaging sausage meat this way for decades: clear soft-plastic cylinders crimped at each end with little metal pegs. I snipped the ends off two of these cylinders and rolled them up like toothpaste tubes to squeeze the pink mess of ground beef into a large mixing bowl.

Then I added an egg, two finely chopped rashers of bacon, half a cup of wheatgerm, a squirt of tomato puree, two chopped cloves of garlic, several chopped sprigs of parsley stalks and all, half a chopped onion and plenty of salt and pepper. I combined the lot with my hands; it's the only way.

Then I lined a rectangular baking tin firstly with butter, and then with very thin slices of raw-cured bacon (the semi-transparent type similar in colour to prosciutto) in the base. I trowelled the meat mixture in with a broad knife and smoothed it over. I covered the tin with aluminium foil.

Into the oven for 45 minutes. Would it come out in one piece? That is always the question. It did, redolent of garlic and with that slightly smoky secondary aroma of bacon and onion. Served with French mustard and a side of polenta under a sauté of spring vegetables: red capsicum, zucchini, asparagus, red cabbage, red onion and broccoli.

Even better cold the next day thickly sliced in crusty bread rolls with tomato sauce.


The Velvet Queen. Written and directed by Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier. Narrated by Sylvain Tesson. 92 minutes, in French and Tibetan with subtitles.

Kitchen Hand review: Mesmerising, transcendent, deconstructed documentary devoid of gushing Attenboroughisms, the bane of nature films. Five stars.


  1. Actually just finished reading The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen last night. Must see this film so I can move beyond the metaphor to the real thing

  2. The film is an homage, two steps removed, to Matthiessen’s book.


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