Friday, August 17, 2012

Of Pigs and Beer

A random thought occurred to me the other day, that where you have a great appreciation for the virtues of pigs, you also have a strong tradition of making beer. Much of Central European cuisine removes around various cuts and preparations of pork, often served with at least a half litre of lager. Think Wienerschnitzel, think Krkovice, think Schweinshaxe and try to imagine them without a clean, crisp beer to wash it all down with. It simply cannot be countenanced, and neither would I want to change anything. It is surely as truer statement as any, that pigs and beer go hand in hand.

I guess in many ways I am pretty much an unreconstructed peasant when it comes to food. I like it simple, I like it good. I am not a fan of fancy juliennes of this or gastriques of that, give me a nice, thick pork chop, a selection of garden vegetables and a slice or two of rye bread, you can call it "Jewish" if you wish, but it is common to all of Central Europe. I am fairly sure I am one of the few people that thinks proper British food deserves to be placed up with the "finest" cuisines on the planet, of course it needs to be cooked properly, like any cuisine, but there are few treats better than a pork roast on a Sunday with plenty of crackling.

What does any of this have to do with beer though? Not a lot really I guess, except that I often find myself rolling my eyes at the seemingly endless attempts to turn the drink of the everyman into something antithetical to its very nature, something fancy. We often read and hear about beer "achieving the status of wine", as though middle class respectability with its chunky knit sweaters, Volvos and wine and cheese parties is something worth aping. 

Do we as some kind of "beer community" not have the confidence in our libation of choice to let it stand on its own two feet rather than being compared with wine? Do we do beer a disservice by wanting people to "take it as seriously as wine"? Traditionally there is nothing aspirational about beer, it has been drunk by peasants and workers, industrialists, nobles and monarchs since time immemorial. To try and seek an "elevated" status for it is in fact to relegate it as something not fit for everyone, and is that not on the of the joys of beer, it is inclusive?


  1. Pig is also the antidote to over consumption of beer when fried for breakfast the next day.

    1. China would be the exception that tests your rule: huge fondness for the pig on the plate, no beer brewing tradition. (This may change, as beer becomes more popular in China, already the world's biggest brewing nation despite comparatively low consumption per head; and I can tell you that Chinese roast pork is brilliant with stout, dark ales, wheat beers and dark lagers.)

    2. also Spain - great for pork products, not so great for beer...

  2. The piggies love the spent grain. That's where ours goes.

  3. I thought China had one of the oldest brewing traditions in the world, thousands of years old. At some point it fell out of fashion though and is only recently making a comeback.

    I'm will Al on the simple foods.

  4. I wish more people would realize that there is nothing wrong with simplicity. In simplicity you will find the essence.

  5. Keep it simple, price it sensibly, sell loads - got to be the way.


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