The an­swer is deep in­side a pig

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Iwas after a pig’s peri­toneum so I could make some fag­gots. I’m in­ter­ested in good, cheap food and had been in­spired by a Keith Floyd recipe I had seen on morn­ing TV.

With a merry heart, I set about my quest to find some caul (also known as veil or kell) in which would-be fag­got­mak­ers wrap their mince meat and herbs.

To pre­pare my­self, I stud­ied Jane Grig­son’s won­drous book on char­cu­terie.

“Next comes the dis­en­tan­gling of the caul or peri­toneum which en­closes the guts in its fatty veil. This is trea­sured for pieds far­cis (stuffed pigs’ trotters) and cre­pinettes (sort-of sausages with­out skins).”

That gem ap­pears just be­fore her star­tling para­graph about clean­ing the pig’s in­testines ready for sausage-mak­ing by putting them over bath taps. That kind of talk is enough to make most peo­ple give up.

But back to the peri­toneum. To save you the trou­ble of look­ing it up, the Ox­ford Con­cise Dic­tio­nary en­try – just be­fore peri­wig and peri­win­kle – reads:

“The dou­ble serous mem­brane lin­ing the cav­ity of the ab­domen.”

From here on, I’ll call it the caul fat, although I’ve also heard some butch­ers call it ‘Not­ting­ham lace’ too.

Burst­ing with the­o­ret­i­cal in­for­ma­tion and en­thu­si­asm, I phoned my friendly su­per­mar­ket butcher. I imag­ined his blank face as I rab­bited on about whether he had cauls or kells or peri­toneum.

“It’s against the law for us to slaugh­ter the an­i­mals,” he ex­plained. “We get ours from the abat­toir.”

But this kind man did prom­ise to phone some­one and get back to me.

His head office had never heard of caul fat. I men­tally mused on the gen­eral dim­ness of most head of­fices and de­cided that col­lec­tively, there’d be a def­i­nite dearth of knowl­edge about caul fat.

I thought he had enough to cope with so I didn’t wax forth that the word ‘caul’ also de­scribes the mem­brane from the uterus which some­times cov­ers a baby’s head at birth and is sup­posed to give it pro­tec­tion from drown­ing.

He soon re­ported back. He’d phoned the abat­toir and found out where caul fat came from.

“You have to get it from a pig,” he told me. “But I don’t know any pigs,” I wailed. No prob­lem, he said. He could get some caul in es­pe­cially for me if I gave him three days’ no­tice. Would a kilo­gram do?

TV’S Mr Floyd wrapped up his bits and bobs in a piece of caul about six inches square. How many square inches to the kilo? It sounded a vast amount for such airy-fairy stuff. Heav­ens, there’d be enough fag­gots for every­one, for­ever.

What I fi­nally re­ceived was half a bucket of white fat in a plas­tic bag. I smiled as I ex­pressed my ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the ef­forts he had made to ob­tain it, but that turned to a look of grave doubt at the solid lump as I pushed my trol­ley to the We’d love to hear about your prop­erty and its an­i­mals, your projects, your life’s mo­ments. Email editor@nzlifestyle­block.co.nz, and if you wish to in­clude images, please send high res­o­lu­tion jpegs.

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