Today’s Telegraph reports about ‘Devon’ Ham from Denmark and ‘Welsh’ Lamb from New Zealand.
This is no new trade. Often in traditional English butchers’ shops you’ll still see old signage exclaiming ‘Canterbury Lamb’ – that’s Canterbury New Zealand, not Kent. They were running this one 50+ years ago.
One major supermarket cynically told me a couple of years ago that ‘local’ by their reckoning meant from the British Isles – ‘local’ is emotional, but not reality they said.
You can buy local if you work at it – you could even grow your own, be that tomatoes on a window ledge, or herbs, salad and even potatoes in a grow-bag.
Just don’t be duped into buying by the label alone and always ask forthright questions if in any doubt. Just don’t then be surprised if the seller doesn’t know the answer, such is the caring for and knowledge of food in this country.
Well done the Telegraph. My big favourite has to be ’Somerset Brie’ coming from France and not Somerset. That made me laugh out loud. It beats Canterbury Lamb by a good few leagues.
Wait until someone checks out some of the high priced Iberico jamon and even some Italian prosciutto – not, I would add in defence of the fine food makers, those which are correctly stamped with official certification like the crown of the splendid Parma Consortium, but those low bred cheats that seek to pass off. I’m well informed there’s many a Hungarian black footed pig that’s ended its life as a ‘pata negra’ in Spain and countless thousands of surplus frozen Danish gammons have found their way to Italian ham factories. Does this trade continue – perhaps we should be told?
The taste will always tell you what’s good and what’s not – but not everyone has the experience to distinguish the real from the fake. Famous art auction houses continue to be duped by clever fakes after all.
Whilst on this one, there’s also the ‘ham’ from the shoulder sold only a few cents short of the price tag for the meat from the far superior hind legs (the gammons). ‘Ham’ used to mean something in law – the cured gammon and nothing else - that’s got lost to mean no more than cured meat.
English lambs have only to spend their few last weeks in the Principality to become the higher priced ‘Welsh’ lamb – only a fool would not be able to tell the difference, because Welsh hill lamb looks, smells and tastes unlike anything reared on English flatlands.
Even that most highly prized Pre-Sale lamb from the Cotentin can be similarly scammed, so I’ve been told locally - only lambs born, raised and grazed on the coastal ‘pre-sale’ (salt marshes) are the genuine, highly prized item. Again, they’ll be officially stamped on the skin with ‘Cotentin’. You can taste the difference.
It’s all down to buying exclusively from a retailer with both integrity and care for the taste of what they sell. We Blue Collar Gastronauts are onto this.
‘Somerset’ Brie from France will keep me chortling all weekend though. That’s got the scammee being scammed. Hope Johnny from Brighton is reading this one – he told me many of my posts make him chortle a lot.