The salt beef of civilization rumbling round in the gut. Constipation was a great problem after the Second World War. Not enough roughage in the diet, too much refine food.
This quote comes from the Deuteronomy chapter of the novel in which the narrator is commenting on the nature of history. The narrator is speaking directly to the reader at this point, which is not consistent with the rest of the novel, to explicitly make her point. She starts discussing beef because she suggests that the act of making history resembles the act of making a sandwich. This quotation demonstrates the comedic irony with which the narrator explains her position. The image of beef comes from her metaphor of history being like a sandwich, but after mentioning beef the narrator throws in images of constipation and roughage since they came to mind. This technique highlights the stream of consciousness inherent in the narrator's tone. This placement of images adds a comic light to a serious subject—historiography. The comedy may help facilitate the reader's understanding of the concept. The concrete images also manage to breakdown postmodern theory into physical terms. Ultimately, the quote might push the reader into laughter. Overall this quote is one of many examples of Winterson's often comedic tone that permeates her novel.