Tuesday, November 27, 2012

PIGS CAN FLY. PART TWO. (Not for vegetarians)

A medieval way of boiling water for pig hair removal (new to me)                                                                          Me

Phew!!! So much seems to have happened in the last two weeks. The most significant by far was the slaughtering of ‘Concita’, our beautiful pig. Neither Stef nor I had ever witnessed something quite like this before and it left both of us well and truly rattled. All we wanted, was to get the hell out of there, but there was work to be done, so with gagging constitutions and heavy hearts, we put the bit between our teeth and worked though that hot Monday ‘mourning’. It took a few days, before we could bare to take the next tentative step to making our Christmas Feast a reality.

A pensive Andre before the deed  Me
Our plan is to use as much of the pig as we possibly can. As I journey down this road, I’m amazed at how very useful a pig actually is. While Stef and I are and dealing in 'The Ministry of Edibles', Harry is the 'Minister of Health and Energy', as he is responsible for making soap and candles from the rendered lard. Of course there’s a mountain of other stuff that he is doing too.

One of the hardened boyz      Me
Martin is smoking the gammons, and the bones. He is also making pancetta with the neck. Having recovered from ‘the ugly monday ordeal,’ Stef and I have found our groove again. We have made a spicy consommé with the hocks and trotters, which will be the jelly for the terrine, we have also made black pudding, which was a major education, and very nerve racking trusting that the intestine wasn’t gonna spring a leak or even worse, burst, leaving the kitchen looking like a violent crime scene. I rendered even more fat, which we’ll use for the short crust pastry for our mince pies. Our menu is coming on rather well, I would say and this is what it looks like.

Rendering fat       Me
MENU (so far)
-       - Pigs Eyes -  (a fresh mulberry set in a limoncello jelly shot)
-       - Piggy Delectable’s - done on the braai (barbecue) which include sage, wild garlic chive and gooseberry sausage, together with crispy belly slices and ribs (by chef Andrew)
-       - Pate' on crostinni
-       - Tripe and Trotters (again Andrew)
-       - Cold Pea Soup – made from a clear stock from the smoked bones
-       - Terrine
-       - Glazed Christmas Gammon – glazed and decorated with fig preserve (wild figs collected right outside the venue) with my mothers Cumberland Sauce. Served with rosti, creamed ‘spinach’ (nettle, pumpkin tips, African spinach), local wild squash roasted and a cress and black pudding salad. (Nasturtiums will probably make their seasons finale curtain call)
-       - Mince Pies – a sweet short crust made from pig lard with currents, mulberries and sherry

The start of a savory jelly
Black Pudding
Cumberland Sauce 
So far this whole process has showed me how out of touch we (today’s urban society) are from what the processes and implications it takes to get food to our tables.

Finally, in spreading the word about this feast, I have been surprised at how many people will happily buy packaged bacon off the supermarket shelves and not consider what sort of life that pig has lived, yet the nature of our feast seems a little too brutal for their taste. At least we know Concita was loved and well looked after and we’ll be using all of her.

The fine ladz who really did the hard work, carrying a symbolic white coffin                                                     Me

(The ‘Pigs Can Fly’ Christmas Celebration will take place on 8 Dec in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town. For bookings please contact Harry on Vleisbook. Ooops! I mean Facebook at 'Harry’s Big Wine Adventure’ Facebook page or email Harry at harrymelck@gmail.com)

1 comment:

  1. You're quite right Charlie. I've been primarily veg and totally veg for longer periods over the past 20 years. I moved back to veg over a year ago for as much health as animal reasons and yes, we are totally out of touch with where our food comes from. And I seem to be feeling more and more this way. Even about fish, which I very occasionally may eat.

    Yet I'm quite comfortable with your piggy dinner as well as my friend who goes hunting here and there and makes all kinds of food from the whole animal (he does the processing etc. himself). I'm feeling more and more out of touch with cling-wrapped polystyrene containers of bulk-raised animals.

    I totally understand that to feed millions of people if is unfeasible to have animals running all over the place living the good life but it just seems not quite, doesn't it?

    If I was stranded in a jungle with no food I'd have no problem eating a bunny - or bird (provided I could catch 'em!) - anything - animal, vegetable and mineral - would be fair game then.