Yesterday my friend, Sacha, was preparing a meal for her fiancée's birthday party. She was nervous and wanted very much to make a good impression on his family. The main course was a barbecued beef dish that was cooked in a bag for five hours. After that time, the meat was removed from the bag, and was supposed to pull apart easily.

The problem was that, after five hours, what emerged from the bag were two very firm chunks of beef, impervious to pulling. In her alarmed state, Sacha proceeded to take a fork to it, scraping the sides in the vain hope that it would disintegrate under her efforts. It was a pitiable sight. She vacillated between fruitless and anxiety-ridden action and the conviction that the whole thing would have to be scrapped for another meal choice.

Luckily, I was there, and I suggested that perhaps the meat just needed to cook longer. My contention was that, given enough time, the protein bonds in the meat would break, and the roast would fall apart. Given enough time, everything does, right?...