Philosophizing About Food With Francine: Cottage Pie


by Francine Black

For tonight’s dinner, a simple, cozy casserole known as cottage pie by the British and shepherd’s pie by the Irish.

Originally the “pies” were made with chunks of beef or lamb, respectively, but now they commonly use ground meat. I was intrigued by the metamorphosis of meat from being chopped to ground and there’s a story, of course!

The meat grinder was invented in the 1800’s by a German chap known by the incredible name of Karl Friedrich Christian Ludwig Freiherr Drais von Sauerbron! You may have seen that very same and still unchanged cast iron contraption in your grandmother’s kitchen. It clamped to the counter and used a hand crank to turn a thick auger that pushed the meat toward rotating blades and finally through perforated metal disks. We had one! Now the grinders are powered, of course and even come as attachments to mixers.

More about that little known but fascinating gentleman with the l-o-n-g name. Herr Drais was a forester by education who had a passion for invention. His creativity has made an impact on our lives to this day, and not only in the culinary arts. (Imagine life without sausages). Among his other remarkable inventions are: the typewriter; the Stenograph machine; and a wooden running machine, which was the first prototype of the bicycle.

Sadly, he died poor and unsung in his time but ultimately, recognizing his genius, his hometown of Karlsruhe established a museum in his honor.

As we enjoyed our shepherd’s pie, made with lovely ground Turkey, I couldn’t help but be grateful to the brilliant Herr Drais for all those inventions, especially the meat grinder!

Enjoy the weekend, dear friends!

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