So after we oohed and aahed over Dingley Dell's adorable little piglets, we headed over to the demonstration kitchen to learn about pig / pork anatomy. The very knowledgeable and very humourous veteran butchers Jim and Wayne from Suffolk Meat Traders -- where Dingley Dell's Hayward brothers send all their pigs for processing after slaughter -- took us through the breaking down of an entire pig carcass.
Completely separate from Jim and Wayne's masterful and educational butchery demonstration, I was slightly disappointed that we didn't get to witness the slaughter of a pig after all, as was originally planned. For me personally it would be an important part of a full field-to-fork day. As a meat eater I find it sobering to at least occasionally confront the death of an animal. It helps with the process of learning to respect the whole animal and not waste any of it. A future occasion, perhaps.
We learned a TON that afternoon, but the lesson that stuck with me most is that if you buy a whole pig's head, it costs £2 per kg. If you buy the currently very fashionable pigs cheeks on their own however, you pay £12 a kg! Crazy, no? Esp when pig ears and snout sausage and tongue and brain make such tasty snacks. This little Pig Day Piggy smells some foodie arbitrage to be had!
Oh yes. The other big soundbite of the day for me was that the UK exports A LOTTA neglected pork bits to the Chinese-populated bits of Asia. Heads, trotters, offals, tails. All Eastward ho. The far-reaching Fergus Henderson empire calls that kind of philosophy Nose To Tail eating. We from that part part of the world call it... uh... eating.
Not that he needs it, but Wayne says he needs a hand (hur hur hur....).
And so he enlists a couple of very lovely afternoon apprentices.
Given the nose-to-tail learning agenda for the day, we also had a go at making morcilla, or Spanish blood sausage. They weren't pies, but they sure brought out the Sweeney Todds in some of us!
Jim loads up the morcilla mix in the sausage filler while Wayne readies the sausage skins...
Various volunteers get involved. The inevitable potty jokes ensue.
Like I said. Inevitable.
Wayne teaches my buddy Jas the intriciate art of braiding sausages into recognisable links.
Look at her go! Look at that avuncular pride! Jas creates such even-sized links so deftly on her first shot that Jim hands her his business card and pretty much offers her a job!
To close, a couple of Dali / Hirst / Gaga moments from the afternoon. Next up: This Little Pig Day Piggy Goes to the Kitchen!