Home Opinion and Features ‘Never mind the Guptas, pass the p#@ony, darling’

‘Never mind the Guptas, pass the p#@ony, darling’

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It certainly seems like a good way to prevent food going to waste and it’s probably an excellent source of affordable protein to millions of South Africans

Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Mentioning the word “polony” in polite company is rather like whispering “Gupta” in a political meeting. It causes strong people to turn pale and weaker souls to faint. Even people with lisps have managed to spit out the dreaded word “listeriosis”.

I am surprised to see packs of sliced polony still on display in my local supermarket, which I believe just goes to show that we South Africans are not easily scared.

One of my early childhood memories is of regular visits to Koos’s butcher shop in Noupoort with my mother.

Koos was a tall, pale Dutchman and, as a little boy, I was naturally fascinated by the large and obviously dangerous machines that stood gleaming ominously behind his counter. One of the most dangerous of them was the polony machine. It consisted of a big stainless steel drum in which a series of razor-sharp blades whizzed round at an enormous speed.

As Koos trimmed the meat for his customers he would casually toss the off-cuts into the polony machine where they were instantly turned into a smooth paste that stuck to the inside of the drum.

Chicken, beef, pork and mutton trimmings all went into that dreadful drum and at the end of the day it was scraped off and turned into the large, textureless polonies that were apparently much admired by Koos’s clientele.

I assume polony is made in much the same way today. It certainly seems like a good way to prevent food going to waste and it’s probably an excellent source of affordable protein to millions of South Africans. I guess you could call it “generic meat”.

I suspect a similar process is used to produce what is listed as “meat derivatives” on the labels of the cat food sachets my two feline housemates enjoy.

Since the listeriosis scare, polony is probably one of the most tested and inspected foods on our supermarket shelves, which just goes to show that even toxic bacteria have their uses in the greater scheme of things.

And in political circles, the very mention of the G-word is likely to cause a rush of inspectors and auditors into the office of the director-general of any government department. We’re suddenly very aware of the dangers of Gupteriosis, so even in the most uncomfortable times we can look on the bright side. Maybe we all need a touch of toxicity in our lives, just to keep us on our toes.

Last Laugh

A radio interviewer asked a prominent member of a political party what he thought of a series of tax increases proposed by the minister of finance. In true political style, the politician refused to commit himself to a definite reply. “There are always two sides to every argument,” he said pompously. “Yes,” said the interviewer, “I suppose a political argument is very like a bass drum.”

“What do you mean by that?” asked the politician. “It doesn’t really matter which side you hit. They both make exactly the same sound.”