I find that when you mention pork chops there isn’t the instant appeal that other meat often elicits. The problem is that the chop has generally been maligned for being too dry, dull and altogether boring. I can understand this because I too, as a child, witnessed the abuses visited on the chop. What started out as a relatively nice looking cut of raw meat ended up horribly pale and leathery and tasted the same. For years there was a fear of raw pork and so everything had to be cooked to a crisp. I feel very sorry for the pork chop because today it really has a lot of untapped potential. The chop makes a lovely alternative to the chicken fillet. It also has great autumnal value as it works well with the glut of apples and other fruits in season.
There’s a tremendous beauty in the English language. We, unlike some of our European neighbours, have been blessed with an abundant tongue based on rich, ancient foundations. We have an instrument of expression that when used correctly can work incredible magic. Words can make us fall in love, do things we don’t want to do, create mental pictures or even stir up emotions we didn’t even know existed. There is power in words and yet we are often lazy, assuming that some subjects don’t deserve a richer word currency. Sad to say, recent recruitment advertising that I have seen for butchers is a perfect example. It looks like there are openings for apprentice butchers in many parts of Ireland which is great news, including my own business, exposing the fact that there is not a lack of jobs in the industry, but a lack of skills. However looking at the distinctly dull and lifeless call to arms, I can see many approaching just because there’s a paying job at the end of it. I caution that a paying job is never a good driving factor for a life in this world.
I was reared in the business of food and farms and therefore acquired an easy knowledge of the natural world, seasons, soil, animals and the roles that man plays within nature’s boundaries. I also have a great passion for food but sometimes though, when one is immersed in a world it’s easy to forget that not everyone shares your passion or knowledge. Our increased busy-ness and technological advances have meant that simple knowledge about nature is often lost. Add to this trade agreements, modern food processes and fast transport and suddenly most foods are available all year round and the natural seasons and what they yield become irrelevant. It’s always “summer somewhere” and so everything appears to be available all year round. Many people just don’t know what is “in season” at any given time and therefore cannot operate within nature’s laws even if they wanted to. By the same token we don’t want to go overboard. This isn’t about adopting a bad attitude to anything imported, processed or not grown within a ten mile radius. It is, however, about adjusting the balance. If we increase the amount of local and fresh food that we consume we are positively impacting nutrition and the local economy.
I’m always conscious of the balance between time invested, money spent and the result. Some things in life just aren’t worth it. Puff pastry is an example. Getting puff pastry right is a skill and for the amateur it requires time and patience. If you have a burning desire to master it then go ahead, but for the rest of us I would say, “buy it”. If your family is fond of tomato ketchup that too can be recreated at home but it’s a lot of work. Homemade ketchup might be considered the healthier option perhaps but, unless they are consuming it by the bucket load, then a squeezy tube is the way to go.
October 3rd is National Potato Day; a day to celebrate the spud. Not the most glamorous of national days perhaps, but despite the fact that it is probably a promotional notion dreamt up by potato growers, why shouldn’t it have its own day? There was a time in Ireland when every day was National Potato Day but the world has evolved and pasta, rice cous cous and a host of other grains have muscled in on the potato’s patch. Also the spud’s criminal association with its fiendish friend, BUTTER, hasn’t helped its reputation in the health conscious and fat fighting communities. It’s high time someone spoke up for the spud and even the dairy company that it keeps. It’s time we stopped vilifying a perfectly good food and enjoyed its versatility. Here’s to National Potato Day; I declare myself a supporter.
A Butchers Life for Me
I’ve posted this piece before but I think it eloquently captures the point I am making and so I’ve posted it again. We have some great opportunities at the moment in James Whelan Butchers, so if you know anyone or perhaps you’d like a career change, this is your chance!
Following the successful launch of our butcher shops in Dublin, at Avoca Monkstown and Rathcoole, we are delighted to announce that we are bringing our craft butchery excellence and expertise to the new Avoca Food Market in Kilmacanogue.
James Whelan Butchers Beef Dripping wins 3 star Great Taste Award! Selected as a 2014 Top 50 Food
Beef Dripping, produced in Clonmel, Tipperary by Pat Whelan, a fifth generation butcher, has just been announced as one of the Top 50 best foods in the UK and Ireland. Of 10,000 entries to the Great Taste Awards, just 153 were awarded a Great Taste 3 Star, and James Whelan Butchers Beef Dripping has now been further selected as a 2014 Top 50 Food and shortlisted for a Great Taste Golden Fork Award.
The kids and I did some blackberry picking at the weekend. It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of year again. And where there are blackberries there are new school bags, packed to gills with new books and virgin stationery waiting to fulfil their very purpose. In nature the schoolbag would be seen as one great big bag of potential seed. If the student uses the contents wisely and on purpose the results can be explosive or perhaps the contents will be wasted, rushed through, thrown aside at every opportunity – the potential within never fully realised. There’s something about blackberry time that, for me anyway, always heralds positive new beginnings. It’s like the start of a new year all over again, which it is in a way. It’s a chance to lay down new rules and have another fresh start.
It can be quite the battle these days to get people to focus on value rather than price. The two are not interchangeable. It is also a folly to compare sectors. Wearing a low quality t-shirt cannot be compared to eating low quality or poor food.
Generally I’m not that fussy about how people use words. Language is for the living and it evolves as we do. Read any Chaucer poem and you’ll see how far we’ve come. I’m not for jumping up and down at the omission or misplacement of an apostrophe, but there is a problem when we start to use words interchangeably when they are not.
If you’re just up it might take a second to wrap your brain around this but stick with me. New research has just been released that suggests people are not fat because they are lazy and don’t move but instead are lazy and don’t move because they are fat! It took me a while too, but I’m got it in the end. Basically this study was all about junk food and processed food and the long term health effects they have on the human body and, more interestingly, on the human brain.