Thursday, 31 March 2011


Voltaire said that 'business is the salt of life'. Now I'm not about to unpack what that means exactly (I wouldn't know where to start). But I am aware of just how crucial an ingredient salt is.
Something that can dry, flavour and be found in a natural form must be rather special. It protects, preserves, enhances, burns and cures.

Bacon, for instance. This food miracle and glory between slices of bread, is purely pork loin, dry cured in salt. 'Home cured' as I'm used to, involved boning (removing the bones) from the loin of pork, then heavy dose of salt is scattered over and then rubbed into the meat. Both side. Over a few days we can monitor just how much moisture comes out of the bacon. We drain and rub down with a cloth to try and maintain the dry curing. It can be left for a long time (hence how bacon lasts longer than a regular joint of pork), and it is usually good to go when the remaining hide is hard and solid, ready to be sliced and enjoyed.

We must ensure we don't have too much as it is bad for one's health. So in a nutshell, love but respect the wonder that is salt.


Monday, 21 March 2011

'and good swill to all men'

Very few people can see the link with theology (what I'm technically qualified in) - and butchery. But I think the links are transparent. When we buy our food we put trust and faith in our sources.
I mean, absolutely anything could have happened in those murky stages from farm to fork.

We have no idea, and for the most part, we like it this way. The importance of trust is enormous - but we very rarely think of it that way. This is particularly the case with butchery. Trusting super market meat apparently looks so easy. It is sat in refrigerated shelving, in shiny wrapping paper, marked at a 'reasonable' price, looking very bright and the same as the others on the shelf. Almost as if it didn't come out of the animal at all, well that's a tad bizarre don't you think?
What I do find odd is that the majority of people will trust this more than their local butchery. People appear to purchase and favour meat that doesn't look like it is from an animal - over meat where in some cases you can even tell the customer the post code of the farm the animal existed on!

But this is also about our issues with killing a living being and then eating it. Sacrifice. See? Theology everywhere. We must recognise, value and respect the animal, and honour it as best we can. What we do need is education and an ability to communicate with customers who have more questions - don't be afraid to ask. Butchers don't bite...well most of us don't...

It isn't just down to the butcher though, we expect you the customer to be loyal and return - but only if the meat is up to your standards, and if it isn't please say something. Chances are there are reasons but if not, changes can be made.

The butcher-customer relationship should ultimately be about friendship as it's about give and take. I'm not saying your local butchery is a charity and you should make ridiculous demands and request a drop in prices (i'm definitely not).

But 'good will', kindness and caring is where a butcher's heart should be.


Thursday, 17 March 2011

'my beef with food'

Food, in my opinion is more than a necessity of living. Food should be loved, valued and fun. It should also be natural, with as few additives, and as local as humanly possible. I'm not necessarily shunning donner kebabs and saying living The Good Life is the way ahead, but surely there is a happy balance - let's see shall we...