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"God made the vittles but the devil made the cook," was a popular saying used by seafaring men in the 19th century, when salted beef was staple diet aboard ship.
This tough cured beef, suitable only for long voyages when nothing else was cheap or would keep as well (remember, there was no refrigeration), required prolonged chewing to make it edible. Men often chewed one chunk for hours, just as if it were chewing gum, and they referred to this practice as "chewing the fat."
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|