City people believe that pigs can fly. At least, that’s if Anne Cianchi, one of the founders of the independent pig farm, Emma’s Pigs, is to be believed. “Many people have absolutely no idea where their food comes from,” she says. “At farmers’ markets, we often get asked for pork wings.”
This, she says, is symptomatic of the modern trend towards packaged, processed food. In contrast, emblematic of the counter-trend – in which more and more people are seeking to reconnect with their food’s origins – is Emma’s Pigs’ “pig-your-own” service.
Here’s how it works. You pick a piglet. The farm sends you monthly photographs of it, and updates you on its progress. You can even come and visit. Six to seven months later, once you have indicated how you want the meat butchered, piggy arrives on your doorstep in a polystyrene box.
Demand for the service, Anne says, is growing. Similarly, as modern man strives to reforge the broken links of his food chain, butchery courses are springing up all over the place – even in the heart of the city. Off London’s fashionable Marylebone High Street, for example, can be found the Ginger Pig meat shop, where people congregate by night to be initiated into the ancient art of butchery. Some participants are dreaming of rearing pigs in the countryside; others are considering putting their skills into practice on the kitchen table. The majority, however, simply want to regain a hands-on insight into meat: where it comes from, the different types of cuts, how to wield a knife properly, and how to tell the good from the bad. And, given reports that Austerity Britain is swapping beef for pork, amateur butchery is more popular than ever.
On the evening that I attended a course at the Ginger Pig, it started off on the wrong foot. One of the participants, a chap called Andy Brampton who worked at the All England Tennis Club, volunteered to take the carcass down from the hook. As he hoisted it over his shoulder, one of the trotters scythed through the air and nearly knocked out a 21-year-old engineer called Gemma. In response, our jolly instructor hammed it up. “That’s what we like,” he said. “Start as you mean to go on.” Continue reading on the Telegraph website