The answer is deep inside a pig
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 email@example.com, and if you wish to include images, please send high resolution jpegs.