Saturday, 8 October 2011


When we stepped through the door I thought I had arrived in some celestial butcher's shop. There, in proud array, came cuts of beef which had been hung so long they came with a pension book. Sausages? Paddington sausage which is flavoured with marmalade, black pudding sausages - sausages in short with all the flavours of the Indies. HOME CURED back bacon, plus bacon steeped in molasses and ribs of beef like gargantuan dockers hooks. Opposite, a counter of gourmet gins and liqueurs of every conceivable fruitsweat. On again to sausage rolls where the flaky pastry struggles to contain the meat; home made pork pies in which only the jelly of pigs' trotters is permitted to bind the meat; and pastry fit to make teeth weep with joy. Lucious lasagne; home made steak and ale pie in which the ale would, in the words of Beaumont and Fletcher, "make a cat speak".

Did you mention cheese? TWENTY different varieties including Black Bomber and Snowdonia Bouncer. All meats are grown on the farm and locally slaughtered is the boast.

"Not ALL the meat," I carped, waving my stick at today's specials: haunch of crocodile, bear ragout, python steaks, emu, venison

"Look out of the window," advised a kindly butcher with cheeks of rosy red. "That's the crocodile house over there and you can

just see the emus behind the deer herd. I regret that we buy in python and bear which require special management skills."

And then I saw it. A tray of Barnsley Chops. Can there be a soul so dead it is a stranger to the Barnsley Chop? A palate so starved of joy it has never felt the caress of meat so sweet it could flavour cake? Surely not. The Barnsley Chop is lamb's stout response to a T Bone steak and in happier days it came with its own kidney, hanging coyly from its under belly. In Doncaster next to the pie and pea shops (another loss to civilisation) every butcher worth his saveloy offered Barnsley Chops.

But stay.....these are pale imitations of the Barnsley Chop. Where is the kidney? The Barnsley Chop does not come with kidneys, I am told. Heresy. No chop would be allowed to leave his mother's side unless accompanied by a kidney chaperone. I emailed a chum with whom I grazed many a Barnsley Chop, sluiced with quantities of Barnsley Bitter.

He wrote back: "Have had the same experience as you. The butcher sold me a Barnsley Chop and I wanted to know where the kidney was. 'No kidney in a Barnsley Chop," he said. And he was adamant. Some years earlier I had been to a restaurant in Barnsley (I think it was called Brookfield, or something similar) especially to have a Barnsley Chop. They claim to have originated 'the B-chop' dish and I remember there was a kidney on my plate. Very nice too. But when I got your note I asked the village butcher the question and he said no kidney in it. So I got in touch with the Barnsley restaurant today, spoke to the chef and he said no kidney in a B-chop. He said the dish had been originated from their kitchen many years ago. 'How come I had a kidney in my B-chop?' I asked. 'You probably had the B-chop dish which includes a kidney but it was not part of the chop.' he said."

Back to the Heavenly Butcher's shop where I threw the question open to the massed butchers. One older and wiser than the rest told me I was quite right. As I might have guessed, it's that pesky EC and "'elf and safety."

"Blame the Meat Inspectors," he told me. "They heartlessly separate kidney and chop in the abbatoir. It's the same with pork chop," he reminded me. "Always came with a full complement of kidney but no longer."

I suppose we are lucky they leave on the fat which protects it against snaw and blaw.

Can there be a more compelling reason for joining the clamour to leave that luckless body?

And while we are on the subject consider this:
Pythagoras' Theorem: 24 words
Archimedes' Principle: 67 words
Ten Commandments: 179 words
US Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words
US Constitution with all 27 Amendments: 7,818 words
EU regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words…
… Europe's Problems Summed Up!

Mind you, we are fighting back.

A Texas businessman decorated a 9-foot-tall tree last Christmas in the lobby of a JP Morgan Chase Bank branch as a favour to the manager. There were protests from On High and the branch manager was told the tree had to go. Wiser counsels have prevailed.
Chase has changed its policy for 2011 and will now allow branch banks to display Christmas trees in their lobbies.

Friends, we are slowly winning the "War on Christmas", says the businessman, but the work is not finished. We must continue to show retailers and national companies that "It's OK to say Merry Christmas." The local paper there is running a campaign offering Christmas protest buttons. Ideal with a Stetson and snakeskin boots.

1 comment:

Dai Woosnam said...

Your words on Barnsley and Doncaster remind me that I have visited both towns in the past year.

And whilst Barnsley market is not what it was - perhaps the most famous and greatest in all Yorkshire - it is still mightily impressive.

But I think that Doncaster market is the great underrated gem. The indoor market hall has a meat section that has proper butchers: bacon without any white stuff in, for instance.

And the wet fish section is a delight. Such a variety and so wonderfully displayed and lit.

Frankly, here in my current town of Grimsby where we SHOULD have a fish section that beats anywhere in Britain, we come in a poor second to Doncaster.

Hope you continue to make a good recovery, BTW.