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Monday, 24 November 2014

Speck... somewhat like eating raw bacon but safer.

Years ago I visited a German penfriend in the pretty rural area around Stuttgart and one day she took me to Ulm to visit her parents. The penfriend's name was Uta and I must admit I had a bit of a crush on her at the time. This would have been in the mid 1980s and I had a stupid amount of curly hair back then plus very little confidence around similarly aged young women. Added to the pile of hormonal confusion I spoke a very limited amount of German. "Guten Tag", "Auf Wiedersehen" and "Ja Danke" to an offer of pretzels isn't really enough to get by for two weeks in Germany. Plus this woman had her own apartment!!!!! I was still living with my parents although getting to the stage where I wanted to leave home.

Uta's parents were nice friendly people who happened to own a goat. I remember this because of fond memories of the solid horns ramming me affectionately in the back of my legs when we took a trip to visit the penned up and probably very bored goat. We stayed overnight and Uta had to go away to a wedding. So, there I was, hardly speaking any German, out drinking beer in a local bar with Uta's dad. We drank a lot of beer and when we came staggering back he insisted that the best thing was to eat a lot of greasy fatty Speck and then there would be no hangover. I obliged. It was hard not to be sick as each fatty morsel slid down my throat. It came swimming to the table in a bowl of hot broth. I have never eaten it again until my recent trip to Holland.

This time it looked a lot more palatable and cut thinner and eaten on toasted bread and butter.

In fact it was so tasty I had it again with a bowl of Dutch pea soup Erwtensoep. My friend Emma told me that when the canals and lakes freeze over in the winter months lots of people go skating and little stalls appear offering the skaters a chance to warm up with a cup of Erwtensoep. There are many variations to this dish.

'Speck is an English word meaning fat or blubber attested since the early 17th Century. The word also exists in German but it normally applies to pork fat with or without some meat on it. Normal English use refers to German culinary uses particularly of the smoked or pickled pork belly. Italian Speck is a type of prosciutto or lardo. The term Speck became part of popular parlance only in the 18th Century and replaced the older term bachen from which our word bacon derives.' Edited from Wikipedia.

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