A friend has announced that he’s brought me back some foie gras from his holiday in the Perigord. Well, I shall be searching for the ‘made without cruelty’ sticker before I tuck in. I don’t think it’s all made by forcing food down a goose’s throat with a wooden spoon. Hope not anyway!
Another colleague was driving in France and had to stop at a rural level crossing. As he waited for the train to pass, an old woman came out of a cottage door, hobbled down the garden just over the fence, selected a duck from the flock milling around at her feet, wrung its neck and hobbled back indoors, presumably to then cook up something fabulously Jamie. A vignette of Gallic country life.
These days we are rather sheltered from the realities of meat production. When I was a kid in wildest East Anglia my friend Albert the cowman’s son would come haring up the lane crying excitedly ‘They’re doin’ the pigs!’ at which we would belt to the farm, and sitting in a row on a five bar gate we would thoroughly enjoy the spectacle of the young pigs being neutered by a man in a white coat brandishing a very sharp penknife.
The pigs didn’t seem to mind. True they squealed a bit but soon went back to snuffling happily round the yard. The results were placed in a rather fine polished steel bucket, to be flown out east for a sultan’s breakfast, or so the man with the knife informed us.
The point being that nobody thought to tell us to scarper. And our mum didn’t bat an eye when we told her where we’d been and what we’d seen. And unlike some kids we hear of today that don’t know where milk comes from, the first thing that Albert’s dad would do after we’d helped line them up in the dairy was to squirt us with finest unpasteurised from the back end of one of the cows!
While we were fascinated by the intimacies of pig-rearing, Albert on the other hand fixated on our flush toilet. Seems it was the only one for miles around. Never mind video games and the like, Albert would spend many a happy hour pulling the flush over and over again.
Kids like the simplest things!