my brother asks me for canned corned beef at sainsbury's. i nod, and he puts a couple of cans in the trolly. once at home, while the microwave's warming up his pasta, he attempts to open one of them. the only tool available with it is this key-needle thing, which you use to wind the tag and pull out a strip of aluminium all around the can.
which is the most complicated method of opening a can i've ever seen.
while i'm still putting in the groceries in our fridge, he asks 'what do i do with this key?'. i turn around; he's holding the can with one hand, the so-called tool with the other.
i take it, and wind the tag for him.
i resume the food shoving, and after a couple of minutes:
'iris, the key fell off and it's only opened half way.'
i observe it. it's obvious the 'key' is useless at that moment. so i grab the can opener, and give it a go.
now, the corned beef can isn't nicely round and easy to open. no. it's rectangular, with rounded yet pronounced corners. so there is no way the can opener is going to make it through them. i manage to pierce two sides.
we both stare at the can, bewildered, wondering 'how the hell do we get into it?'.
i grab some scissors, and dilate the opened edges. i notice that the corners are starting to split. and i carry on.
now, when you're using something as a leaver, there is a very high chance of spraying whatever's inside the can all around you once the lid is burst open. we both stand well clear of it - my brother flees, and i shut my eyes tight.
hooray, it's opened diagonally and i don't have any traces of aluminium on me. i bend the lid using a knife, and manage to make a triangular opening.
but this is corned beef. it's all compact. you usually slice it, therefore it's quite solid.
i realise, in order to get this out without risking any more cuts (my brother got quite a bloody one and he barely did anything but hold the can), i had to mash it inside, and then try to pour it on a plate.
i'm vegetarian. i do not enjoy mashing meat. especially with a big knife a la 'psycho'.
with much stabbing and shoving and shaking, i manage to eventually get all the corned beef onto the plate, in the course of five minutes, working like a surgeon through a tiny opening, without spilling much through the already open strip.
the result was what i christened as 'corned beef crumble'. a volcano of what corned beef must have been before canning.
i am happy though, because my brother enjoyed it all the same.
and afterwards, we enjoyed a couple of megadrive games.