One of my favorite “fables” from my friend Peter Beddows tells the story of a family that always cut inches off the ends of the ham before cooking. The inquisitive young daughter asked why, but the only answer seemed to be that it was a long-standing technique passed on for generations. They finally asked the great-great-grandmother, who explained that it was – at the time – the only way to fit the roast in her small turn-of-the-century oven.

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