Monday, December 17, 2012

Grilled Black Bear Steak

While visiting my mother recently, I had an opportunity to eat black bear steak. I've seen a number of  black bears in the wild, but I've never gotten a good picture of one. The one below was taken from Wikipedia.
The picture below is of the raw black bear steak. I was really quite excited to try it. 
black bear steak
I had heard mixed reports on the taste of bear meat.  I've heard that it can be sweet, but that the fat can be very nasty. I've also read that it tastes like pork. 
The meateater website  states that the taste of the flesh reflects what the bear has been eating, even more so than other animals. If the bear has been eating salmon or carrion, the flesh is not going to taste as good as if the bear has been eating blue berries or grass. Years ago bear meat was eaten regularly. It was so prevalent in New York that a market was given the name of Bear Market (distinguished from bear and bull markets on Wall Street today). The Joy of Cooking, by Erma S. Robauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, 1964 edition, gives recipes for cooking bear meat. It suggests that you "Remove all fat from bear meat at once, as it turns rancid very quickly." It also suggests marinating the bear meat for at least 24 hours in an oil based marinade before cooking it. I had just a few small steaks and wanted to get the full flavor of it. 
So I did nothing to prepare the meat other than to rub on a little olive oil and put it on a grill on high heat. I cooked it six or seven minutes on one side and about four minutes on the other. It came out looking very nice and was quite tender and flavorful. 
There were nine people present and everyone had at least one bite. All liked it. Some compared it to beef. The meat was a tad-bit sweet and reminded me of lamb more than any other meat, although it was darker, more tender and not as strong as lamb. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lubeck Cathedral

Lubeck is in northern Germany, just off the Baltic Sea, and is located in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. It has one of the major seaports of Germany. For several centuries it was the capital of the Hanseatic League, a confederation of merchants and market towns that were involved in trade in Northern Europe from the 13th to 17th centuries. The Hanseatic League was created to protect economic interests along the trade routes used by merchants and included cities such as London, Antwerp, Bruges, Cologne, Riga, Krakow, Danzig (now Gdansk), Frankfort, Berlin, Stockholm and Hamburg. The old part of Lubeck is on an island enclosed by the Tave, a river which is connected to the Elbe River by a canal, and it is full of beautiful old buildings and magnificent churches. 

One of the beautiful churches in old Lubeck is the distinctive red brick Lubeck Cathedral. 
Lubeck Cathedral

Construction of the cathedral was started in 1173 and completed in about 1230. Then the cathedral was transformed from a Romanesque style building to a Gothic style building between 1266 and 1335. During World War II, bombs dropped near the cathedral on March 28 to 29, 1942 and a large part of the cathedral was destroyed, including the two towers. 
Bombed Lubeck Cathedral (from Wikipedia)
However, a goodly portion of the religious symbols inside were saved, including a 56 foot tall crucifix built in 1477 

and many medieval polyptychs (paintings divided into sections or panels). 

Undergoing restoration.
The same man who built the crucifix, also built the rood screen, 
an ornate partition between the chancel and nave. After several decades of work, beginning in 1947, the church was completely rebuilt by 1982. 

It is associated with a wonderful legend. In the 700s, Charlemagne was hunting in Saxony, a German state to the southwest, and captured a large deer. He laid a gold chain on the deer's antlers and then let it go. 400 years later, in the 1100s, Henry the Lion, the founder of Lubeck, was out hunting. He wanted to build a church in Lubeck, to house the bishop's seat which had been transferred from Oldenburg, but lacked the funds. As he was contemplating this, a large deer with a diamond-encrusted crucifix in its antlers stood before him and he shot it. After taking the cross from the antlers, the deer rose up and ran away. This raises all sorts of wonderful questions, like how did the gold chain transform into a diamond crucifix, or perhaps Charlemagne's 5th great grandson captured a deer and tried to outdo his ancestor. Whatever the process was, Henry used the crucifix for funds to build the church. A large statue of a lion, the symbol of Henry the Lion, stands outside the church. I think it would be fun to add a deer as well. 
One of the early bishops of Lubeck Cathedral, Heinrich Bochholt, who acted from 1317 to 1341, 
has a beautiful bronze sarcophagus in his likeness, 
Heinrch Bochholt, Bishop from 1317 to 1341
with lions at his feet, placed in a simple room. 
It is quite a magnificent setting for a burial. 

As mentioned earlier, Henry the Lion moved the seat of the diocese to Lubeck from Oldenburg in 1160. In 1531, Lubeck turned Protestant, as part of the Protestant Reformation, and the Bishop did not attempt to fight it. It has been Lutheran ever since. It was part of the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church until earlier this year, when it joined the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany. 

Modern stained glass window
Organ pipes
Baptismal font