I've said it before, but I have to restrain myself from writing about food and drink on this blog — a subject close to my heart. My feeling is this: most of us eat two or three times a day, so we may as well enjoy it. Luckily I don't need much persuasion. I'm not talking about greed and self-indulgence here; I'm talking about health, pleasure and love. What could be nicer than preparing a beautiful meal for someone? (Particularly if that person is appreciative, though I know it's not always the case!)
I live on the border of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, and am fortunate in that Lincolnshire is one of England's great food-producing regions. It's also one of England's largest counties, one of the least populated and one with the biggest acreage of farmland. (I won't get into the complex and controversial debates about factory farming, prairie-style agriculture, the degradation of the soil and the depletion of our wild flowers right now.)
Lincolnshire has many specialities, including the excellent beef and vegetables (many grown on rich and dark, reclaimed fenland soil), plum bread (my mother used to bake this every week), Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, Lincolnshire sausage made out of coarsely chopped pork with sage, Bateman's beers. There's also a delicacy called stuffed chine, which I bought at the local mini-supermarket the other day (vegetarians, please look away now):
|Imagine this, perhaps, with some picked onions, beetroot, gherkins and chillies, a small wedge of Lincolnshire Poacher hard cheese, and a slice of wholemeal bread!|
To cook this, the neck chine of a pig (a cut between the shoulder blades) is marinated in brine, then scored with a knife and the cuts filled with parsley, other herbs and some secret ingredients. After a long, slow simmer, it turns into very tasty salt pork, to be eaten cold. It's absolutely delicious. One of the biggest fans of this dish was the French Symbolist poet, Paul Verlaine!