Warwick is the only male I can socialise with. Pity I have to eat him
Raising a pig to stock the larder seemed like a good idea. But I’ve never eaten something I’ve named
I have always loved pigs. Where we grew up, in a tiny hamlet in Oxfordshire, there were several on the small farm in the middle of the village. The farmer never seemed to mind it if he found us in his yard, looking at his pigs, touching their soft pink noses when they ventured, gingerly, out of their stall.
This small, mixed farm was a very real business, if a rather more romantic type of practice compared with the farming I witnessed later in life; the growing and keeping of animals on an industrial scale. The sorts of farms I visited as a grown-up food writer had signs on the entrance that suggested you were entering a nuclear reactor. The clothes you had to put on – special boots, coats, hair nets – and a strict briefing only confirmed that feeling. But I’ve never had any difficulty connecting the pig and the pork.
Growing up mainly in the countryside I always understood that, in the same way the wheat sheaves I could waft my hand over in the fields would become cereal, the beef cattle, sheep and pigs would become burgers, chops and bacon. I have attended a nose-to-tail masterclass tutored by the great chef Fergus Henderson. Inspired by him, I have simmered a whole half head and, as directed, chucked over cider and a splash of Calvados for good measure. Fergus reckons there’s no more romantic a meal for two than eating the slow-cooked soft flesh of a pig’s cheek...