I am horrible at math. I don’t read a note of music. And I can’t do "Magic Eye.” (Whenever someone makes me stare at a bunch of dots, I always lie and tell them I see the camel, or the spaceship, or whatever they insist is there, just to get them off my back.) Yet despite these apparent shortcomings, my self esteem remains firmly intact, and do you know why? Because I posses a skill that few in this world will ever master. I can make gravy (and I'll share my secrets with you in the video at the end of this article! Don't miss it!)
What’s even more impressive:
I can make it from a turkey; I can make it out of jerky.
I can make it make it from a roast; I can put it on my toast.
I can make it smooth, not lumpy; I can make it when I’m grumpy.
I could make it for the Navy; You could serve the Pope my gravy!
If this seems a bit boastful I’m sorry. It’s just that I’ve spent far too many decades perfecting my craft to start shying away from well-deserved compliments now. I think Ann Landers said it best: "Bragging is not an attractive trait, but let’s be honest. A man who catches a big fish doesn’t go home through an alley.” And a woman who makes good gravy doesn’t serve tunafish to her dinner guests.
But just because I happen to be a gravy aficionado doesn’t mean everybody else is. I’ve done some research on the subject and basically most of you seem to fall into one of four categories.
A. You’re so disgustingly healthy that you recoil in horror at the mere sight of savory brown gravy dribbling down a pile of fluffy mashed potatoes. (Weirdo.)
B. You just don’t like it. (Major weirdo!)
C. You grew up in a place where gravy was unheard of – Rangoon or Reykjavik, maybe – and think I’m a weirdo for being so obsessed by it.
D. You’re as addicted to the stuff as I am, and understand perfectly when I say I’d love to have an I.V. filled with gravy pumped directly into my veins.
Oddly enough I have no clear recollection of being formally introduced to this rich, velvety elixir, since in all likelihood I was gumming it on a soft roll long before I cut my first tooth. But then, that’s fairly typical of folks born and raised in the south. For us, bread may be the staff of life, but it’s gravy that makes that bread so enjoyable. We start at breakfast with thick sausage gravy on our buttermilk biscuits; then at dinner (that’s what rural folks call the noonday meal) our chicken fried steak is smothered in white or "cream” gravy; and finally at supper we sop our cornbread in gravy’s oddball cousin, "red eye” a thin, watery concoction made from ham. (FYI, the difference between gravy and sauce is that gravy is rendered from meat – which can include anything from quail to squirrel to buffalo. In fact, don’t croak when you read this, but the best gravy I ever tasted came from a batch of crispy fried frog legs!)
So anyway, as I grew up and my fervor and appreciation for good gravy thickened so to speak, I realized that ready access to the real stuff (and not the disgusting fake mystery glop that comes in a can) meant that I was going to have to learn to make it myself. Of course, as every good cook knows, you can’t do this by simply reading a recipe. You have to watch someone make it, and in my case that "someone” was my mom, who learned from my great-aunt, Anna Belle. Like Anna Belle, Mom never measured anything, her timing was flawless, and her deft stirring technique seamlessly melded art and science together with a touch of magic.
Standing at her elbow, I became an apprentice to the master. True, my early efforts were disastrous, but I never gave up. And now my children and grandchildren rise up and call me blessed whenever I make it, thus proving the old adage: Serve a girl some gravy and she’ll ask for second and third helpings. Teach her how to make it and she’ll fatten up second and third generations!
So who cares if I’m horrible at math, can’t read music, or do Magic Eye. I’ve discovered that the real secret to happiness lies in a little bit of meat drippings, a handful of flour and just the right amount of milk. Once you’ve got that, everything else is just…well, you know…gravy.
And here, as promised, is the video where I show you how to make gravy: