Tomorrow will be the first Saturday in TIME, time, (time) that I will be afforded the wonderful luxury of being able to get up, put on my dressing gown, take a cup of tea to the sofa, and lie there for as long as I feel like it, watching Saturday Kitchen or whatever cookery magazine show is currently being shown. This is how kings and conquerors must live, every day, not just on Saturday’s. The only difference being that nobody comes running when I click my fingers. Say I am watching a repeat of an old Keith Floyd show and he happens to be cooking a particularly delicious looking Andalucían peasant dish of tomatoes and sausages, or a Malay curry of noodles and prawns, and my salivary glands go into overdrive. I need to eat all that I see on the television. Were I truly living like a king, a click of the fingers would bring a servant or fag scampering over, begging ‘yes sir, yes sir, how may I serve you?’ I would say, ‘make me that there off the telly; make me it now’. And it would be done.
Back in the real world and I’m watching cookery programmes and salivating over food I will never eat. Man vs Food is travelling the USA eating barbeque and burgers like you wouldn’t believe. Bizarre Foods is sampling all the strangest grubs and sea slugs capable of being digested. Jamie Oliver is using ingredients from his heavenly kitchen garden, while Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is eating freshly collected molluscs on the beach, consuming them raw or cooking them on his extravagant outdoor stove. Meanwhile Heston Blumenthall is inviting a random bunch of celebrities to eat experimental delights, the sort of which could not possibly be emulated by an enthusiastic amateur at home. So what am I supposed to do with all this visual information? It is not food, it is merely pictures of food. Ceci n'est pas une pipe. I cannot eat it and yet it still makes me hungry. I’m confused. And hungry. Woe.
Speaking of food: after my fiancée made a delicious ham roast the other day, we now have a wealth of delicious rich pig stock to cook with. Yesterday I used some of it in a soup of onion, carrots, celery, ham, and lentils. What else should I make? Pig stock seems to be hugely uncommon in Western cooking. A quick look online and in some books shows it to be very common in many kinds of Asian cooking, and somewhat common in Southern US cooking. I’ve never seen pork stock cubes in a supermarket; this strikes me as odd. Yes, to many people pork is haraam and non-kosher, but the majority of British people love to wallow with the great pork products: ham, gammon, sausages, hot dogs, Parma, pork pies, black pudding, spare ribs, pork chops, spit roast hog, hock, belly pork, scratchings & crackling, and especially BACON. Even trotters, jowls, ears, tail and intestines are not unheard of. So why is pig stock unheard of, when vegetable, chicken and beef is ubiquitous?
Amazon is selling a book called The Whole Hog, described as “A gourmet celebration of the pig and its parts...with 100 easy-to-follow recipes and innumerable pictures of delicious-looking crackling.. this book is a pork-eater's dream.” How can it possibly go wrong? To top it all off one of the co-authors is called Christopher Trotter. They missed a trick in not using Francis Bacon to paint the cover art. Erm... something about Osama bin Lardon... no? Lardon; it’s a piece of pork fat. It’s a funny joke. Never mind.