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NAUTICAL SAYINGS CHEWING THE FAT

Thursday April 16th, 2009
ImageCHEWING THE FAT
It sounds like a metaphor for friendly analysis of problems or things discussed at length. And it is. Or is it? It’s a bit of a baffler this one. The origins of ‘chewing the fat’ are based in the days of pre-refrigeration, when meat was preserved by salting it. A staple of a sailors ration was salted beef and pork and, as we all know, curing with salt means that the moisture is drawn out of the flesh. Most food contaminations rely on water to flourish. As efficient as salting was, it actually rendered the meat virtually inedible unless it was chewed over a long period of time. What this has to do with today’s interpretation of the phrase ‘chewing the fat’ is a bit of a puzzle to me, unless talking with your mouth full for a couple of hours was not only acceptable back then but almost expected.
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