My parents loved caravanning during the years I was a teenager. I absolutely hated it and often stayed with my grandmother over weekends to avoid going camping. More than anything, I loathed my dad’s inevitable hash of fried onions, tomatoes and bully beef on bread. I never understood how corned beef, so deliciously portrayed by American policemen on television, could taste so revolting on this side of the world.

Even more confusing to me was why it is called ‘corned’ beef if it doesn’t contain corn and that mystifying “contains chicken” on the tin’s wrapper. (Wikipedia tells me “Although the exact beginnings of corned beef have been lost to history, it most likely came about when people began preserving meat through salt-curing. Evidence of its legacy is apparent in numerous cultures, including Ancient Europe, and the Middle East. The word corn derives from Old English, which is used to describe any small hard particles or grains.In the case of “corned beef”, the word refers to the coarse granular salts used to cure the beef.)

Still passing that familiar Bull Brand label in the supermarket yesterday, I though I’d give it the benefit of an audition with my adult taste buds and try it as a sandwich filling. My verdict? Still awful, perfectly dreadful.

And today in food history (especially for Jamie Dedes) 1954 Colette, (Sidonie Gabrielle) died. A French novelist, her novels contain many exact and detailed descriptions of food and the pleasures of the table, and quite a few recipes. Nothing corny about Colette.

Lastly for the day, for my friend Amia who asked about my butler’s tray:

It has been with me for many years; it’s been in my bathroom, my office, my bedroom and my lounge. It now stands next to my stove. I have fallen down Table Mountain while carrying it, it held tequila at my wedding, it’s been used in photo shoots and has been spray-painted more times than I remember. One of the Chinese jars holds brown & wild rice, the other holds dried lentils. The green & white utensil holders was a gift this past Mother’s Day. The antique cutlery in the glass comes mostly from my friend Sue. The wire egg basket was R7 from a bargain store.


69 Comments Add yours

  1. deepercolors says:

    I don’t like it either. :-\

    1. theonlycin says:

      Glad I am not alone ;p

  2. slpmartin says:

    I don’t like it either…but why were you carrying your butler’s tray up and down Table Mountain?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Well there’s a story on its own, Charlie, we’d had a dinner on the beach at Twelve Apostles and used the butler’s tray to hold towels in case people got their feet wet … there was quite a lot of wine involved.

  3. I wonder what home-made corned beef would taste like.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m going to give it a try, Leon, will let you know.

      1. theonlycin says:

        Thanks Nancy 🙂

  4. Sue says:

    Aaahhhh, but the only cin was that you didn’t prepare it my mum-in-law’s way! Finger lickin’ good beef …

    1. theonlycin says:

      Share the recipe, Sue?

  5. Sparkle says:

    My sister is a better cook than I am and she makes hers with fried onion and spices. It becomes edible when prepared on the stove unlike just warming it up. I only eat it if she brings otherwise I don’t even buy it myself. She also enjoys cooking for her family and she loves food herself!
    Morning 😉

    1. theonlycin says:

      Hello Sparky, have a super day 🙂

  6. souldipper says:

    Cin, we paralleled thoughts and feeling about that horrible, smelly stuff. I wondered about “corned” as well. Did you read where it was from? Our tins came from S. America and, at the time, I wasn’t much impressed with the pictures I saw of cattle from that part of the world.

    No wonder I prefer veggies. Like my friend says, “I do not eat anything that could have been a mother or a father.”

    1. souldipper says:

      Oh dang – I wanted to say how sweet it is to have you tell us about your butler table and its contents. You slid around the story of the wine party at the Twelve Apostles (I stayed in that hotel). Now…about coming down Table Mountain, Miss Cin-who-dislikes-hikes.

      1. theonlycin says:

        Well, there was a very steep flight of stairs and it was the early hours of the morning …

    2. theonlycin says:

      Hehe, my daughter always says she wouldn’t eat anything that once had a face, but I have found ways of conning her 😉

  7. Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi says:

    You are my hero – giving one of your childhood food enemies another try – so brave! Sorry it didn’t work out better for you. It’s funny .. a lot of things I didn’t like as a kid are my favourite foods now.

    1. theonlycin says:

      My tastes don’t seem to have changed much 🙂

  8. My Mom made a corned beef pie by frying the corned beef with onion, tomato and spices then layering it with slightly cooked potato cut into thin slices, white sauce, cottage cheese and cheddar before baking it in the oven. Delicious!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m still not convinced, Douglas 😉

  9. It’s a beautiful tray, and those are beautiful jars.
    How about those corns? You learn something new every day…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Indeed we do live and learn, Kate 🙂

  10. Alleenlik Ek says:

    Ouch, en ek is so lief vir Corn Beef!! eet dit sommer net so as ek kan. Dankie vir die skinkbord!! Ek is absoluut mal daaroor, en dink juis self daaraan om so ‘n skinkbord in my kombuis teen die een muur te sit, ons het so ‘n lekker groot oop spasie.

    1. theonlycin says:

      So ‘n skinkbord is baie handig 🙂

  11. Tandy says:

    I am never ever going to try bully beef! Love the spatulas 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      One very special ORANGE spatula in there 😉

  12. leigh says:

    That first paragraph is just hilarious !!

  13. Tilly Bud says:

    I like your table and I loathe corn beef. I’ve never been able to eat it. My MIL was a wonderful cook but I couldn’t eat her corn beef hash.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Well, at least I tried it, now I know it is definitely not for me 🙂

  14. Leeswammes says:

    In the 25 years that I’ve been a vegetarian I have not eaten any corned beef (obviously), but before that, we used to have it (from a tin) and I sort-of liked the salty taste of it, and the structure. We of course, didn’t call it corned beef, but cor-nét bief. Almost English!

    Your tray is wonderful and I’m amazed how many purposes it has served.

    1. theonlycin says:

      cor-net bief sounds very fancy 😉

  15. LOVE your butlers tray and it’s history.
    🙂 Mandy

    1. theonlycin says:

      Hehe, come to think of it the tray has enough stories to have its own blog 😉

  16. Steffi says:

    Your table looks so beautiful,I like it.Sorry please,but just I thought on your first photo it look like a soap ;)).

    1. theonlycin says:

      Do you not eat labskaus, Steffi, that has corned beef in it?

      1. Steffi says:

        No…I still have´nt ate this.

      2. theonlycin says:

        Neither have I, don’t want to either 😉

  17. nursemyra says:

    It looks similar to Spam

    1. theonlycin says:

      I guess it is similar, Myra …

  18. bandsmoke says:

    Vulgar food, no redeeming qualities i agree – read somewhere you can slice it and fry it, beggars belief 😦 The peep into your kitchen has been a delight 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Hey Bandy, where have you been? 🙂

  19. mostlydazed says:

    Hey there Cindy,

    I just received an e-mail, that I will attach below, but thought I’d best say: CONGRATS!! Wonderful work on your side.

    Dear Ludi

    The complimentary recipe at the bottom of this email is by renowned food blogger Cindy Taylor. It’s a pistachio-crusted sirloin and it pairs perfectly with the First Sighting Shiraz.

    Get your First Sighting Shiraz as part of our specially selected mixed case.

    You get

    3 bottles Sauvignon Blanc
    2 bottles Shiraz
    1 bottle Pinot Noir
    At only R395 it’s the perfect way to stock up your cellar. And delivery is free!

    Order your wine now and get cooking! Cheers!

    Conrad Vlok


    PS: Send out the invitations – your friends are going to love that sirloin with my Shiraz! Decanter magazine rated it 17 out of 20!

    First Sighting Mixed Case

    Only R395 with free delivery

    First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc – 3 bottles
    First Sighting Shiraz – 2 bottles
    First Sighting Pinot Noir – 1 bottle
    The perfect way to enjoy all three First Sighting wines!

    Order any of our other wines – delivery is free!

    First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc – R342 per case

    First Sighting Shiraz – R420

    First Sighting Pinot Noir – R588

    Strandveld Sauvignon Blanc – R570

    Strandveld Adamastor – R690

    Strandveld Syrah – R840

    Strandveld Anders Sparrman Pinot Noir – presented in a special 12x750ml wooden crate at R3960


    Download the order form and return it via fax

    Send us an email and tell us what you’d like

    Phone in your order on 028 482 1902

    Pistachio-crusted roasted sirloin

    Renowned food blogger Cindy Taylor has crafted this mouthwatering recipe specifically to pair with the First Sighting Shiraz.

    Winter is almost at an end, but nights are still decidedly chilly across the country and the weather is perfect for cosy fireside suppers with good food and a great glass of wine shared with friends. Shiraz is the perfect partner for roast beef and this pistachio-crusted roasted sirloin does more than hold its own when paired with First Sighting Shiraz.

    Get your butcher to cut you a sirloin roast that has a good amount of fat marbling, you don’t want to end up with a dry piece of meat. 1kg should feed four people as a main course. This recipe would also work with a rib roast.

    For the crust:

    2 Tablespoons each: pistachio nuts and breadcrumbs

    1 Tablespoon Shiraz salt (available at most good food stores and delis)

    2 teaspoons each: crushed garlic, ginger and chilli

    1 Tablespoon French mustard

    1 Tablespoon olive oil

    Using a stick blender, blitz the above ingredients into a stiff paste.

    Pat the meat dry of any blood and coat the top, fatty side of the meat with the paste to form a cover.

    Place under a hot grill until the crust just begins to crisp.

    Reduce heat to 180C and roast until desired level of doneness; rare is the way to go, but leave for longer if you prefer medium or well done.

    Leave to stand in juices for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

    Serve – on pieces of crust – with potatoes in any form: roasted, fried, baked or mashed and gently steamed, crunchy seasonal vegetables or a side salad.

    Click here for a printable version

    Order your mixed case now

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    Tel. +27 (0) 28 482 1902. Fax +27 (0)28 482 1906

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    Prices include VAT and delivery in South Africa and are valid until 31 August 2011.

    A case contains 6x750ml bottles, unless otherwise stated.

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    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks Ludi, it’s always great to get feedback 🙂

  20. adeeyoyo says:

    I love home-cooked corned beef, but the tinned variety leaves a lot to be desired and no wonder because, if I remember rightly, the last time I read the ingredients it seemed to contain anything but corned beef! 😦

    1. theonlycin says:

      The only beef, probably, it contains is a bit of ground ear and hoof ;p

  21. mairedubhtx says:

    I’m Irish, but corned beed is one of my least favorite foods. I also hate camping.

    1. theonlycin says:

      We think with one mind 🙂

  22. MissChris says:

    My oupa used to eat bully beef as a snack when we were on holiday in Kenton. He used to chop up and onion, soak in in vinegar and then add the bullybeef to the onion and vinegar and put it on a zarm (sarmie) – to this day, the only way I can eat bully beef is if it is drenched in white vinegar!!!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Good grief Chrissie, that sounds awful!!!

  23. SuziCate says:

    Never been a corned beef person, just don’t like the taste of it. When we were kids my cousin and I caught about forty crawfish one summer and put them in an aquarium, and fed them corned beef…we woke up the next morning to find all of them dead. We blamed the corned beef…however we failed to provide an oxygen supply…we didn’t know…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Oh man, what a waste, do you eat crawfish? Is it similar to what we call crayfish?

  24. nrhatch says:

    Love your Butler Tray . . . but Gerard Butler is sexier. 😉

    1. theonlycin says:

      Gerard Butler holding my butler’s tray with a bottle of bubbly and two glasses would be the sexiest 😉

  25. I grew up on corned beef hash – the brand we have over here is Hamper, and on the tin it used to say all sorts of things, beef hearts etc. from memory. I adored it. My mother used to break it up with a fork, and fry it with onions in a pan and serve it on rice for dinner, Chinese style. It’s funny how memory works though – I really don’t love it any more, especially since my brain now can’t reconcile all the mystery ingredients in the tin! 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      I agree Celia, the ingredients are very off-putting!

  26. bluebee says:

    I admire your sense of adventure eating tinned corned beef, Cin – eww 😀

    1. theonlycin says:

      Very eww, bluebee 😉

  27. earlybird says:

    I haven’t eaten it for ages. The smell for one thing (like an inferior brand of dog food) but also all that fat. And the texture. BUT I used to make a quite good hash with it when the kids were small, with lots of onions and left over mashed potato and I don’t remember what else but I think it was topped with a fried egg. And I probably allowed them tomato ketchup with it…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Ketchup would probably have saved the dish 😉

  28. pinkpolkadotfood says:

    I am also not a corned beef (boelie bief, soos ons dit noem) fan. If something must be cured in salt I prefer Biltong! 🙂 I love the butlers tray!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yay, biltong wins for me too 🙂

  29. Naomi says:

    Agreed, they can keep the bully beef, but I love that sneak peek into the life of your butcher’s tray…can’t imagine what it was doing with you on Table Mountain??

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s a very long story, Naomi 😉

  30. My childhood memories are of my parents making Fray Bentos corned beef and scrambled eggs and it tasted wornderful. Alas you can’t get it here anymore and the other brands do not compare. I also tried a tin of corned beef to see if the adult in me likes it and it was revolting 😦

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m completely over it 😦

  31. dearrosie says:

    I don’t think I’d take a bite of bully beef even it someone paid me – looking at your photo it looks like a slab of dog food.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Haha … that’s exactly what it looks like, Rosie 🙂

  32. Jamie Dedes says:

    Ha! Thanks for that, Cindy… I do love my Colette and you are so right. Nothing corny about that lady.

    What a nice butler’s tray. Such a fab color. Cheerful!

    I never understood corned beef either. Appreciate the background. Thanks! We found we liked it when we made it with left-over roast beef using an old-fashioned meat grinder – the kind that attaches to the table. Probably haven’t made it in a good twenty years though. I think that makes it “roast beef hash” and not “corned beef hash” though.

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