Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Saga of Tripe and Lites!

I went to have a session of acupuncture today. I have great faith in my acupuncturist and, because of this, I told her all about Rupert's recent troubles (his jaw wentout again yesterday) and sought her advice. Not only is it his arthritis, it's also the anxiety and depression brought on by the arthritis. The pain and restricted mobility is worrying him. A fully-flexible jaw is vital to a cat and sympathy, I've learned, is counter-productive. It just makes him more worried. So, it's cheerfulness and positivity from now on. There's no depression in our house!

Sue, my acupuncturist, was full of helpful suggestions, amongst them the idea that I should cut down on his acid intake (turkey and chicken) and give him some good, old-fashioned innards, the so-called tripe and lites. It was excellent advice, the only problem being that where, in affluent Kensington, could one possibly go for old-fashioned, down-market, innards? No supermarket would have heard of them, far less stock them. Lidgates would look in pained amazement at anyone making such a plebian request. I thought of putting 'tripe and lites' into Google - but it wouldn't much help if I found them in Pakistan! I came home, still debating the question. Eventually, not knowing what else to do, I 'phoned Lidgates.

"I wonder if you could help me," I asked, "I've a friend who's been prescribed tripe and lites. He badly needs if for a controlled diet, and I was wondering whetherperhaps you could get it for me?"

After a moment of surprise, the woman on the other end of the phone promised to look into it. I was left holding on for several minutes. Finally, she returned ...

"We could manage it," she said, "but we'd have to order it. We couldn't have it for the weekend." "Monday would do perfectly," I assured her.

And so it was agreed, I gave my name and phone number and agreed to go round to collect tripe and lites on Monday. Heaven knows how much there'll be, I didn'tlike to specify a quantity . . . oh, dear, the ice compartment of the fridge is already overflowing with Rupert's fish!

So, think of me on Monday. And keep your fingers crossed that no questions are asked about my suffering 'friend'. Rupert is the best possible of friends, but I'm notsure that they'd see it in that light!

(Monday mid-day) Just back from Lidgates. Not surprisingly, I'd never been to Lidgates before. What a magnificent emporium! What an incredible array of meats . . . of assorted pies . . . of cheeses . . . of chocolates . . . I was lost in wonder. And what an elegant shop, with its beautifully uniformed staff and the walls bristling with awards and commendations. I said that I had come to collect my order. They asked me, very courteously, if I would kindly wait for a moment as it was being assembled. How much tripe and lites did they think I wanted? I began to feel apprehensive. There was so little room in the fridge. A charming young man in a straw boater came up to me with a tray of meat.

"I'm so sorry," he said, "this is all the lites we could get."
It was more than Rupert could eat in a fortnight, so I thanked him profusely and told him that it would be perfect. My order, both tripe and lites, was finally handed to me over the counter.

"I've never seen lites before," confessed the young man in the boater, "tell me, how do you cook it?"

It didn't seem the moment to confess to being a vegetarian, nor to admit ignorance.

"You braise it," I said firmly. In the absence of any knowledge, it was what I intended to do. You could hardly go wrong braising. He looked duly impressed. "It's for arthritis," I added, "I'm hoping it will work." The courteous young man said that he, too, hoped it would be helpful. Grasping my heavy load, I walked out of Lidgates.

Oh dear, I've only cooked a third of it. There's a plastic tray in the fridge piled high with Lidgate's top-quality, succulent tripe.

You don't happen to like tripe, by any chance . . . . ???

In giving Rupert tripe, I'd stupidly overlooked a critical factor. Tripe and rump steak are visually, and in every other way, so different that I'd failed to appreciate that they come from the same source. When Rupert was a kitten, with frequently recurring stomach upsets, he had been diagnosed with a bovine allergy. Everything that came from cattle (even milk) upset him. For the rest of his lifeI've been careful to give him nothing that was bovine based . . . until the tripe . . . The meal he was eating when I wrote to you was destined to come up as quickly as it had gone down. Poor Rupert was very poorly. There was only one thing to do . . .

Had there been someone of an enquiring mind in Holland Park this morning, someone with lively curiosity and time on their hands, they might have wondered at the sight of a woman with a cat on a lead peering over the fence in the woodland area. They might have puzzled as to why, on a sunny morning, with no shops nearby, she was carrying an apparently heavy carrier bag. They might have been a little mystified as to why this woman, after looking round a little furtively, wouldperiodically, appear to deposit something over the fence in the area known to be frequented by the foxes. Had this inquisitive person been really curious, he or shewould have walked up to the fence, after the woman and cat had departed, and been even more puzzled to see little mounds of meat half-hidden in the fallen leaves. There would have been no solution to this mystery, and the inquisitive person would have gone home still puzzling. But the foxes, I hope, would have been very happy!