One of those things mentioned in the title I have a fond familiarity of, one I do not. However both of these things are without any doubt: awesome. Jerky is a staple around the world. Not always only based on Beef, it is also made of tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, even shredded octopus of squid. There's just something deliciously primeval about letting something dry and ripping off chunks of it to chew. And when you cure it with smoke flavors, soy sauce, brown sugar and an array of spices that primeval taste gets upgraded to the highest echelons of delicious ecstasy.
I made beef jerky in the US, after having gotten a food dehydrator for a wedding present (the only wedding present I primarily use!). It was always a pretty simple affair. I would cozily drive to Wegmans where I would pick up a pound of grass-fed organic ground 95% lean beef and on my way back home stop in for a venti dark brew. You could say it was semi-ritualistic. A good way to frame your Sunday. You know, frame it around dried meat product.
The idea is simple. Mix up a combination of marinade ingredients just like you would marinate a steak, but marinate your ground beef. Let sit in the fridge for some hours (mince is easier since it absorbs the marinade faster) and then pull it out and pack it into a syringe. Squirt it out just like a caulk gun onto the trays of the dehydrator. Add time, heat and some Shahs of Sunset / how things work reruns and you've got yourself a healthy, low fat high protein home made snack.
So can you do said delicious healthy snack here, 8000 miles from home, without your precious Wegmans and venti-latte-low-fat-vanilla-whatever, without your grassfed organic mince beef (we ARE in India, after all)?
Of course you can! Or why would I be writing this? You just need to do what any expat should do in India: change some things around and don't have any expectations. First off, it ain't beef. It's water buffalo. For reference, see below:
I know what you're thinking: that's bad-ass. And it is my friends. It's even HEALTHIER than 95% lean beef. Water buffalo is ludicrously lean. Then again, try and find any fat livestock in India. I dare you. I double dog (buffalo) dare you. Next up, replace your venti-frappawhateverchino with Kingfisher BEER. Now we're talking! That's right, your Sunday just got an injection of Coun-tray, But sort of an Indian country, since it is a classic Indian beer. Finally, the last is ingredients. FYI, I am not sharing the actual recipe, because the jerky came out (as I had hoped) to be absolutely delicious. So be satisfied with the explanation and quantities below:
- Some pepper flakes of some kind. Probably red. Like fire
- Some sauce of le soy
- lots of GARLIC SALT
- Potentially alot of honey, or maybe not?
- A truly MANLY quantity of Worcestershire sauce
- Another pepper that I think (dont trust me) was black?
- Paprika. Cause its fancy.
- 2 Scales of a mature Rainbow dragon
- Happiness (qty: one table spoon)
Lastly, you need some awesome equipment and to half-freeze the meat. Using a industrial meat slicer you slice the half-frozen meat (makes it easier to slice) into thin sections. (At this point, I'm already salivating). You then pour in your mix into some bags full of the meat and make sure to get all the air out. In this case, we also have a industrial vacuum packing machine (like how these pop out of nowhere, hunh?). So we vacuum pack them with the brine inside.
Throw the bags in the fridge for 10 hours, take em back out and pat them dry. Lay them flat in the dehydrator, and set to the highest level heat (170F) for 6 hours. Stop after 1 hour and pat both sides dry to remove excess fat (it will only make the jerky go bad faster if you leave fat). At this point you can sleep, or in our case eat other meat that wasn't used for jerky. Evidence below:
Your final end game is a packet of jerky, vacuum sealed for freshness. Congratulations, you just made jerky! Ta da! And man, ooooooh man is it good. I. Cried.
Now. Onto the other item in the title, I (had) no familiarity with. Motorcycles.
Just the name makes me think back to being a kid though. Dreaming about driving a 50CC mo-ped while visiting our family in France. My brother and I would salivate at the photos of overpriced 50cc "racing scooters". But now I'm not a kid anymore (or am I?) and I've got a little money (not really).
Everyone has bikes in India. Most of them ranging from 50cc to 220cc. But I keep seeing these motorcycles on the street, from time to time. Or should I say, I hear them. Thump. Thump thump thump. Thumpers. Single cylinder Royal Enfields. I could go on and on about the history of Royal Enfield explaining everything I've learned thus far or I could just sum it up real quick, because its really awesome and totally manly:
- RE was begun a long time ago. Like pre-WWI long ago. They made lots of stuff.
- It was originally British.
- Manufacturing began in India under license at some point.
- The Indian group bought up the name and rights.
- It's still made, almost exactly the same as it was, 60 years later.
- Its doing really well.
Royal Enfields all have the same engine type, just different displacement. It's a single cylinder, vertically mounted. So the piston goes up and down, up and down, thump, thump, thump. The sound is awesome. Want to know more about single cylinder engines?
So now I want one, especially after I got a chance to drive a new 500CC (that's half-a-liter engine, or 500 cubic centimeters) Enfield. It was fun, visceral, and not too fast. Just right. You can't accelerate so hard you fall off or pop a wheelie, but you can definitely feel the rush. It's perfect.
But the biggest hurdle is, how to get one back to the States? Import regulation is a doozey. I would need to spend $4000 to get it to pass emissions requirements, noise, blah blah blah. My hopes, my dreams. Crusherized.
Until I met a local motorcycle guru.
He/she owns and operates a Royal Enfield antique renovation spot just in the outskirts of town. Visiting on Sunday just before making Jerky, I got to inspect all the bikes there are, all the ones being worked on, and all the ones we could make. Check out some of the pics below.
The one you see in red I will likely get. But it will be changed. Firstly, it's going to be matt-black with just an "RE" spelled out on the gas tank in white. And I'll probably change out the seats. And best of all? It's a bike from 1975, which means its a "classic antique" and is grandfathered in if you import it to the States. God bless exemptions.
Nice thing about working with the guru is he/she wants to make it your special ride. My favorite part of all: there's a good chance we will be able to work together to build a completely custom bike based on an antique Enfield. I'll be getting my hands dirty. I have a smile from ear to ear right now. I'm getting that feeling I used to get from spending quality time in the bowels of Packard Lab at Lehigh University with the folks in Mini Baja.
So my learners permit is scheduled for Thursday. And during many months I will train in our housing development and get good. And I will ride. And it shall be wonderful! Wonderful with a helmet of course!