Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Extra tasty

"I've taken an executive decision and got us scratchings in". The snacks man had visited when I was down in the cellar, and purchases had been made without my consent. She tries to suppress that dismal Midlands accent, but there's no mistaking it: one of my barmaids is common as muck. Why else would she try and inflict such a foul, plebian foodstuff on our lovely, sophisticated clientele?

It took me a long time to realise I hated pork scratchings. It also took me a while to realise that that awful beard made me look like a total see-you-enn-tee, so the delay isn't too surprising. Put simply, eating pork scratchings will hasten the end of your life. Right after you open the packet and lift the grisly contents to your beer-soaked lips, take out your leather-bound organiser and put forward that meeting with Death.

The brand I'm now reluctantly selling is endorsed by CAMRA. What a surprise. Their beer festivals expose one to the most damaging of foodstuffs. Sadly, until we can empty that bloody bag, so does our little pub.

When the barmaid in question first heard about this blog, she said that she expected it to be full of angry diatribes about her and the chef. It took a while, but we've got there. Well done, love.

38 comments:

  1. Now you really are just being a contrary controversialist. Pork scratchings are the food of the gods.

    Although they do make me feel a bit sick by the fourth packet.

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  2. Scratching are actually not that bad in comparison to a pack of chips (oops I mean crisps). A usual packet will have around 300 calories, 17 grams of fat and 12 grams of protein and no carbs.
    While they are high in fat and high in calories, they are not as bad as they seem - especially if you are on the Atkins bandwagon.

    Although I guess if you eat them you are guilty by association. They are the food of choice for many tickers.

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  3. Jay's Beard BlogAugust 13, 2008 4:54 pm

    i cannot believe this. by all means slag off sparklers, fizzy yellow swill, all of that but - your beard? i thought it looked great.

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  4. Paul's Scampi Fries BlogAugust 13, 2008 4:55 pm

    where do we stand on scampi fries?

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  5. It seems I've hit a bum note again. Beer lovers of the world, do we have anything in common?

    Please use the gadget on the top left hand side of the page to register your opinion by midnight on Friday.

    Also, the most spirited defence or denunciation of pork scratchings posted on this thread will win a free packet of the same, posted with my own hand.

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  6. Viva la piggy flesh. The bottom of the bag works better than crack for me every time.

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  7. Pork scratchings sound like something in which I could invest on the futures market.

    Are they anything like pork rinds? If so, I approve. In moderation.

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  8. I see you have your finger on the pulse yet again.

    Me and most of my compadres love them though there are some real crap brands around.

    I thought the ones at the GBBF produced by the Crusty Pie Place were good - much superior to their frankly disappointing pies.

    The Pembury Tavern does some nice ones though strictly speaking they're closer to crackling.

    This Sat I'll be at the VAT & Fiddle in Nottingham with my Darlo mates and we usually get through a few packets by the end of the day.
    Bailey's right though - the fourth packet is usually the killer.

    I often wondered why the Dutch and Belgians don't have these - maybe Podge knows?

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  9. I want to click the button that says "I eat them about once a decade". They're tasty and crunchy, but a single bag will sate my craving for several years. I'm basing my response on the version available here in the US.

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  10. Nigel Slater (the UK TV chef and food writer) describes them as "being like a Hobbit's toenails" and claims that for really good pork scratchings they have to be made within a few miles of Walsall in the Midlands. He says such scratchings are as addictive as crack cocaine and will probably do you about as much good, but he loves them.

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  11. In other news, I am serving the most orgamiscally perfect pint of Landlord ever conceived of by man in the pub tonight.

    It's as if the beery stars have come into alignment - a good cask from a good batch, a freakily wonderful secondary fermentation in the cellar, perfect atmospheric conditions - whatever. Put simply, this is the best it gets.

    I'm going to have to try very, very hard not to get absolutely shitfaced by closing. Please put aside our differences over rancid pork by-products and wish me luck.

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  12. The Nova Scotian equivalent must be dulse, packets of dried seaweed that old guys chew. Tastes like shoe leather that is soaked in iodine which quickly resolves to mush followed by a wave of nausea.

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  13. Spencer, the American ones aren't nearly as good as the ones you get in Britain. Especially if you get them in an unmarked bag which the pub has bought directly from a butcher.

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  14. You really are becoming a grumpy young man, Stonch. What have pork scratchings ever done to you?

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  15. I really used to hate pork scratchings but I tried some at GBBF last week and thought that they were excellent. The pork scratchings at GBBF looked very fresh and were in a clear bag, went very well with English ale, I have now been converted!

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  16. Ron, I wouldn't say dislike of pork scratchings denotes grumpiness - quite the reverse in fact. To inflict such a horror on oneself would require a degree of self-loathing that would surely manifest itself in an unhappy disposition.

    Grumpiness is far from my mind today - I've had a 10k run followed by a perfect pint of Landlord followed by a lovely blue steak. These are a few of my favourite things.

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  17. Stonch, you need to (wearing your running shorts) take your blue steak to the mirror and have a good look at the man you've become.




    What is a blue steak? I only know red or black meat.

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  18. A blue steak is one that is very, very rare. It's the only way Luis likes to make it. If I was to ask for it otherwise I'd get his standard response of "ten years in the kitchen, not for nothing, no?", and then he'd refuse to make my bacon sarnie the next morning.

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  19. Bacon taste good,pork scratchings taste good. As an entrepreneur anything so salty is good for more drinking! And the industry has kept barrys in work 4 years.

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  20. The fresh pork scratchings stand at the GBBF was a sight to behold:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/79605023@N00/2760208553/

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  21. You've not lived until you've stood at the bar in a pub in Tipton, deep in the Black Country, with a pint of "Bonks's" (sic) slowly settling in front of you, contemplating whether to go for one of the four different brands of pork scratchings on display, or the plastic-wrapped cheese and pickled onion instead ...

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  22. Pubs = good
    Ale = good
    Scratchings = GOOOOOOOOD!

    (Must be a West Midlands thing)

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  23. Must be a West Midlands thing

    Yes, "barmaid in question" is from thereabouts. She claims to have once worked in a pub where mild was the most popular drink. I didn't realise such places still existed, even in the 90s.

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  24. As the organiser of the National Pork Scratching Competition held at the Queens Head in Chelmsford for six straight years (Yes, count them) from 1998 to 2003, I think I should interject. Pork scratching tasting is fun but you need strong teeth, a sense of humour and a thirst. Your taste muscles tend to get bypassed after your 30th Pork Scratching tasting sample and your first gallon of Mild. However I would love to see the competition resurrected.
    If anybody would like to revive the competition in one of the hotbeds of Pork Scratching whether that is Tipton, Ludlow or Shoreditch I would only be too happy to supply contacts inside the pork scratching world, past results and perhaps even a prize for a future competition.
    Sorry not all the records have been kept as they were just minging.
    CHEERS! Podge

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  25. i like the hairy ones.

    kingRat

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  26. KingRat, indeed:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kake_pugh/2748788422/

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  27. Scratchings are ok, I'm not to keen on swine, however as a bar snack they pale in comparison to the noble and much maligned pickled egg!

    oh and bring back the beard!

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  28. Ooh, pickled eggs. Now you're talking.

    Pork scratchings stopped me being vegetarian. Damn them. Damn them to hell.

    It does depend on the make though, there are some awful ones out there. I like the Pembury's offerings, but can't finish half a packet.

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  29. Infidels..!

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  30. West Midlanders are the loveliest people in England.

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  31. Surely there's a market for gourmet pickled eggs in this day and age? Organic free-range eggs laid by old English rare breeds, lovingly matured with a selection of herbs and spices in a vinegar jus - the perfect gastropub bar snack. Though personally I prefer the rubbery, face-distortingly sour ones that have probably been sitting in that huge jar on the counter for decades.

    Back to the subject of pork scratchings - I've already added my 'yes' vote to your poll, but I must admit I only ever buy packets rarely, and then only to share. I don't recall ever eating an entire packet all by myself.

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  32. According to the Tories everyone north of Oxford and Cambridge should move south, so praps after the next election they'll bring their pork scratchings with them

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  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  34. It's ironic, if there is one thing I can't stand it's tripe (even the apparently sublime Trippa alla Senese made by Marco at the Gatto in the Chiocciola) and yet pork scratchings - which are as near to dammmit deep fried tripe with added pig hair - just do it for me big time.

    Especially the ones with the big, cold, yellowing, creamy fat layer hiding under the crisped skin.

    And Tesco don't sell them, which is an added bonus.

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  35. Damien Hurst is selling pickled eggs at £300,000 a time...

    I like a good scratching, but as with all such salty, fatty snacks, moderation is the key. Oh, for some will power!

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  36. Worse than scratchings - has any one ever tried Big D's Pork Crunch: http://www.hairybarsnacks.com/pork_scratchings_reviews_more.php?id=113&review=Big_D_-_Pork_Crunch

    I kid you not, they're like pig-fat flavoured Quavors.

    Ian Marchant in his book The Longest Crawl seemed to suggest that all of Britain's pork scratchings are made by only 3 producers, who simply produce for all of the brand names. Lord knows if it's true.

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  37. Eddie, Podge - in Netherlands and Flanders we have pork scratchings - but we call it "knabbelspek". You can get it by Albert Heijn - 1,29 euro for 100g. Lekker lekker lekker!

    Greetings, Hansje

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  38. Yeah, and in the Netherlands, they also put chocolate sprinkles on bread...lol.
    Anyway, before reading this blog i never heard of them-here in germany, they are unknown, but thats good, every region has their own fattening beer snacks...
    And i lik such stuff from time to time, just not always...

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