Food Drink

This little piggy. . .

After two decades of not eating meat, Alice Whitehead found herself tempted by well-

reared livestock and farmers’ markets.

ecently I ate my first bacon sandwich. after 21

years of being a strict vegetarian. And I have had

more meat since. But that first bite wasn‘t because some alluring fast food advert had tempted me or even due to a sudden drunken whim for pork. I tried it because I knew where this particular pig had come from.

In the early 80s. my mother was the one who decided that our family would be vegetarian. As a teacher at the local technical college. she had visited a nearby chicken factory to show students how their kievs and nuggets were manufactured. I‘m not quite sure what she saW. but afterwards cxclamations of ‘living dead'. ‘twisted necks’ and ‘blood-red floor’ between gulping sobs meant the humble vegetable took on a great significance in our diet.

Honestly. at six. I was more interested in choosing a teddy bear than making meaningful decisions about the ethics of consuming sentient creatures. But when I moved away and could escape the dietary constraints of my mother‘s home cooking. I remained vegetarian.

Granted, through university it was considered cool to light for animals‘ rights. and I went on the odd ‘meat is murder‘ rally. Yet as I got older. I realised l was never really against the whole concept of ‘eating‘ animals. I just didn‘t like what happened to them before they were served up. And. if I needed any more encouragement, the news was filled with stories of caged pigs. battery chickens and. to cap it all. BSE.


Then. this spring I was asked to write about Ballencrieff

pedigree rare breed free-range pig farm. just outside Edinburgh near Longniddry. I met owner Peter McLaren and saw his brood of Saddlebacks. Gloucester Old Spots and Berkshires. As i toured the farm. McLaren confessed how he after rearing them from infanthood. seeing them



range freer as teenagers. and fattening them up with crushed chocolate biscuits couldn't bring himself to take his pigs to slaughter.

'l've never seen one killed.‘ he said. ‘I fall in love with each and every one of them. especially the little ones. and i couldn‘t see them die.‘ Little did he know that he was. ironically. converting me.

A trip to Edinburgh's farmers. market sealed it. I realised that McLaren was not alone and dozens of farmers cared about the way their animals were reared. exercised and fed.

Not just any meat is acceptable. 1 don’t want to spend hours getting bruised and battered by trolleys at the supermarket. simply to buy bacon that smells of plastic or spend what seems like a half—week‘s wages on free-range chicken because it falls into the 'special' range‘.’ But I could happily spend my Saturday mornings browsing the outdoor market stalls. amid the wafting smells from the barbecue. while sampling Claret-infused sausages from a farm where traceability was not a dirty word. You only have to go to one of these markets to see how many people are aching for a return to that bygone age. when meat was not pumped out of a factory and people knew local farmers by name.

That bacon sandwich was a bit of an epiphany. It was like having sex after 2| celibate years indulgent. daring and a little naughty. but above all. a journey of rediscovery. At Haddington‘s farmers‘ market I chatted to a farmer about my conversion back to meat. when a man came up to me and shook me by the hand. ‘Welcome back.‘ he said.

For information about farmers’ markets close to you, see the Deli 8. Good Food Directory to Scotland, free with this issue.


Eat out, drink up '

Sidellishes News to nibble on . . .

I ALAS, WE NEED TO issue a few more minor corrections to our 168- page Eating & Drinking Guide, published in April and still widely available at bookshops and news agents throughout the central belt and beyond.

The Unicorn Inn (page 89): The name of the chef and co- owner of this highly regarded Kincardine venture. where the Grill Room is complemented by the seafood-dominated Red Room restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights, is actually Tony (not Tom) Budde. Plus. the 17th century inn has always been the Unicorn and never the Commercial Hotel. Mea Culpa.

Gingerhlll (page 96): Although we got its location right in the review. somehow the address of this Milngavie restaurant our pick for the best neighbourhood restaurant inexplicably places it in the West End of Glasgow. We apologise both to proprietor Alan Burns - and of course the good folk of Milngavie for this gaff.

Air Organic (page 99): Since our visit here. the popular West End (yes, it's right this time) Glasgow bistro has been rather completely changed in both decor and dining options. Sorry again for any problems. The List will attempt to correct the entries in our online version of the guide at

I Finally, The Eating & Drinking Guide is virtually out of date the minute it is printed, given the dynamic food and drink world. The Stockbridge Restaurant in Edinburgh has reopened. New owners Jane Walker and chef Jason Gallagher won’t fiddle immediately with the decor, concentrating instead on the modern European cooking. The Stockbridge Restaurant, 54 St Stephen Street, 0131 226 6766.

it) L’-1.Jtlti?t){)-1 THE LIST 113