“We Don’t Eat Peppa Pig… Do We?”

I rather mischievously call venison sausages Bambi, and more recently have taken to naming any pork one as Peppa Pig. When shopping, and given a choice, my 3-year-old daughter generally chooses the Peppa Pig sausages. She didn’t know why they were Peppa Pig sausages, just that they were.

I was wondering when the first question about where meat comes from would happen. She understands that fruit comes from trees, vegetables are grown in the ground, and eggs are from chickens. I assumed that a knowing question about where chicken or lamb comes from would be first, as they don’t have a secret identity in the way beef/steak (cow), venison (deer), and pork/ham/bacon (pig) do. Chicken is chicken, and lamb is a baby sheep (awww).

So, while we shared a lunch of a ham & cheese rolls, my daughter asked me “Where does ham come from?”. From a pig, I answered. “How does it come from the pig?”.

While I may be disingenuous at times with my daughter, I never want to lie to her. So I set about telling her an admittedly sanitised and idealised explanation.

“Ham is actually a piece of pig who was raised to be our food. A farmer looks after a pig from when it’s little, gives it good food and treats it very nicely. When it is big, the farmer decides it’s time for the pig to die, and after it does it gets chopped up into pieces. The farmer sells them, people buy them, and we cook and eat them.”

She mulled that over for a moment and then carried on eating her ham roll, seemingly undisturbed.

I was quite glad to get this out of the way relatively early. I have friends who’s children have stopped eating meat when they realise what it is.

The other day, on our walk to nursery, my daughter had by this time made a few connections, and then asked me – “We don’t eat Peppa Pig… do we?”.

It’s fair to say I don’t really like Peppa Pig. We’ve never seen the show, but the books are so poorly written I have refused to read them aloud any more. They are read the books at nursery from time to time. I also had a copywriting job where I went a little mad with all the Peppa and George tat I had to gush about. I understand the TV show is better, but I’m too preoccupied with showing her the likes of Star Wars, Studio Ghibli, and (currently) Dinosaur movies.

So I was very, very tempted to answer “Yes, we eat Peppa Pig”. But on consideration I replied “No, we don’t eat Peppa. Or George. Or their mummy or daddy.”

“But we do eat other pigs. Sausages, ham, bacon, are all from other pigs who are dead”.

Again, she pondered that for a moment, and then our walk to nursery continued.

I appreciate that as a society, we have become increasingly removed from the fact that meat is part of a dead animal. My wife has made a better go at facing this head on. When 7 months pregnant, she took it upon herself to skin, decapitate, and joint three wild rabbits that a friend had hunted – just to prove to herself that she could. We don’t have a photo of any of this, as I was hiding in the living room until the dead animals were transformed into meat, which I was then more than happy eat.

My daughter has the beginning of an understanding of where meat comes from, and so far it hasn’t conflicted with her love of cute animals. Or annoying ones like Peppa.

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Haggis Pie, with Neeps and Tatties top

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A thing of beauty: Haggis Pie, with neeps and tatties top

In the build up to Burns Night this year, I got rather excited at seeing Haggis on sale. We had recently returned from 4 years in New Zealand, where they don’t allow Haggis to be imported. The local made stuff is awful, and has no right to be called Haggis.

I attempted a Haggis meatloaf instead (recipe to follow), which while tasty was still no substitute.

Back in the UK, seeing proper Haggis on sale was great, so I purchased a few extra to freeze – not realising that in the intervening years supermarkets had started to stock Haggis all year round.

They’re there taking up vital freezer room – room needed for all those batch cooked toddler meals, and the hot weather of summer is approaching so I figured I needed to do something with them quick.

While scouting around for other ways to use them, I thought about combining the neeps & tatties element with the Haggis, into a Haggis Neeps and Tatties pie. Delia had the same idea too, so I used her recipe as an inspiration, with a bit of added Nigel Slater, and a dash of me…

Serves 3

Haggis Pie, with Neeps and Tatties top

Ingredients

  • 1 x 450g Haggis
  • 400g Swede
  • 400g Floury potatoes
  • 100g Spinach
  • Knob of butter
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 30g Cheddar

Method

  1. Cook Haggis as per instructions (usually about 1hr 15 mins in oven). Slice open and allow to cool.
  2. Chop swede into chunks, and boil until tender (about 15-20 mins). Then mash with an added knob of butter (this might be best done in a small food processor). Set aside.
  3. Peel potatoes (reserve the peelings) and chop into chunks. Boil potatoes with peelings (adds loads of flavour) either loose or in a muslin – until tender (about 20 mins). Drain, discard peelings, and dry the potatoes – either by leaving in pan covered with tea towel and lid, or in an oven at low heat for about 10 mins. Mash with a potato ricer and add butter or oil. Beat with a wooden spoon till light and fluffy.
  4. Tear spinach leaves, and stir into the potato mash. Set aside.
  5. In a buttered baking dish, smoothly layer with the haggis, then swede, then potato. Top with the grated cheese, and then bake in oven at 200°c (180°c fan ovens) for about 40 mins, or until top is a lovely golden brown colour.

Allow to rest for 5-10 mins, then serve with extra veg of choice, such as steamed carrots.