Friday, December 16, 2011

I dream of a full English

And so it was back to the pig: the lovely lovely pork. I can’t say that I forgot about Pigley, as I like to call him, while wrangling with bath tubs and leaky pipes because I ate pork chops, pork roasts, all things pig as often as possible during my plumbing nightmares. I ate pork to keep my strength up but I also ate it because my lovingly reared pig tastes so damn good.

But what came next was new to me. It was a journey of discovery; just as bringing my pig home in the rental car had been; just as butchering Pigley in the garage had been. It was making bacon and sausages: a long wished for dream come true, no less.

You see, life in Londinium was fun in many ways but at the back of my mind was a hankering, a yearning to grow and process my own food. And, the Holy Grail as far as I was concerned was being able to make breakfast from produce that I’d reared.

Now, I may have achieved that by planting oats in my pigeon poop filled window box and hoping for the best but that would have been copping out somewhat. I wanted a full English, as I’d call it: bacon, eggs, sausage, tomatoes, beans and a large fat slice of fried bread. Difficult to achieve in a two bed apartment, even for the most creative of enthusiastic urban foodie, I’m sure you’ll agree.

However, life has changed for me, as you kind readers know. In what seems like the blink of an eye I’ve gone from commuting in rush hour traffic to communing with nature; I’ve swapped pin striped suit for plaid shirt (I have quite a collection, I might add); and, I’ve forgone restaurant dining (on all but special occasions) in favour of hooking, harvesting and hand rearing my own food.

But back to my full English breakfast. My lovely wife makes bread from wheat we helped harvest and the meat, the pork to make sausages and bacon, was until recently sitting in our freezer.

And so it came time to make our bangers. I’m going to let you into a secret here, on a series of covert missions that the FBI would be proud of (make of that what you will) we sneakily stole the knowledge of local sausage-maker extraordinaire Norm Weber. Please don’t tell him but what we did was pop into his store and chat light heartedly about all manner of things, slowly, slowly bringing the topic around to sausage making. Norm would wax lyrical about this trickiest of arts as we listened. The wife and I would nod conspiratively to each other as we left, our heads buzzing with new found sausage mixes or stuffing techniques.

Strangely, as Norm patted me on the back and sent me on my way for the umpteenth time he smiled broadly. I couldn’t work out what was making him so happy, as I was the one gleaning a lifetime’s experience. I pondered it as I opened the trunk of the car and unloaded the five packs of salami, a dozen pepperettes, smoked cheese, fish and pork, two steaks and a vintage fishing lure; my regular order.

With Norm’s wisdom ringing in our ears (and a refrigerator filled to the brim with his smoked goods) we unleashed the hog stuffer on our pork for the first time last week. The horrific scene of sausage meat squirting from the automated stuffer in an uncontrollable jet did not materialise, thankfully. My steady stuffing technique and my wife’s deft handling of the sausage skins proved a winning combination. Out came the minced meat, filling the long skin and making pert pink pork sausages. They were a triumph for us and a sight to behold for anyone who admires a well stuffed banger. For other folk they probably looked like, well, sausages.

Ohhh but the taste, I’m salivating as I write this: my dream of a home produced full English is a dream less distant. What was, ironically, totally unobtainable for me in England is coming to fruition in Canada. I have the bread. I have the sausages (we made bacon, too) and tomatoes I’ve grown. Beans will be planted in the garden next year. Eggs: I’m gonna wait until spring to start making my own eggs. I imagine Canadian winters and chickens don’t mix, not unless you like them frozen, with their feathers still on!

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