Darina Allen is a true celebrity in Ireland. Her cookery shows have been televised and her books are a staple in
most Irish homes. She is the founder of Ballymaloe,
a successful cookery school in East Cork which she runs with her husband Tim Allen.
Darina has kindly agreed to provide a weekly recipe on the site, so get out that apron and start cooking!
One of the great tragedies of our time is the huge contrast between the roar
of the Celtic Tiger in some areas of our society and the appalling hardship
that some of our farmers find themselves in at present.
The atrocious weather has exacerbated the situation, fodder is scarce and
expensive and in some cases non-existent. As a result we hear of some farmers
who are unable to either feed or their stock, so in desperation they have turned
them loose onto the roadways resulting in danger to passing motorists.
Pig farmers too are in dire straits and yet we read that 16,000 tonnes of
pork and bacon, is being imported into the country every week and being sold,
particularly to the catering trade unlabelled.
I would appeal to people to buy Irish and to support our pig farmers through
this difficult time. I would equally hope that at least some pig farmers will
consider going into less intensive organic production so we will again be able
to buy the sweet juicy pork I remember as a child. A few have already done so
and are finding great demand for their product.
I personally am not interested in dry tasteless lean pork, it doesnt matter
how cheap it is. I now have my own pigs, some pure-bred saddle-back and some
bonhams which are Large White crossed with Red Duroc, they live out of doors
winter and summer, root in the earth, wallow in the mud, play in the field and
virtually never need a vet. The pork is succulent and sweet with a nice layer
of sweet fat. My friends and students are astonished by the flavour and marvel
as they taste pork as it used to be.
When the pig industry begins to produce really flavoursome pork again, they
will have people queuing at the counters prepared to pay because they will be
getting value for their money in terms of texture and flavour, even if its twice
If such a happy situation should come about I would urge the farmers to sell
under their own name and to set their own quality standard, and not to be guided
by the current wisdom which mistakenly makes a virtue of fat free meat anyone
who knows anything about food knows that there is no flavour and succulence
without fat. Butchers who knows their meat will tell you that, but most feel
that they are being coerced into selling leaner and leaner meat by a misinformed
public. Consequently the farmers are under pressure to produce leaner animals,
which results in less good eating quality and consequently loss of interest
and demand. What a vicious circle weve become caught up in where absolutely
nobody is a winner. We urgently need to re-examine the situation.
Farming has turned into an industry agri-business, perhaps we need to ask
ourselves a basic question, why are we producing food in the first place food
is health, so as farmers we should be producing wholesome, naturally produced,
health giving food which will sustain, nourish and re-vitalise those who eat
it. How much of the food we eat nowadays really fulfils these basic criteria?