Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Pete's Tripe and Farewell to Ludlow Food Centre (unedited) - South Shropshire Journal 17/1/14

Pete Carroll, the bloke who edits this paper (blame him and his sub-editors for the grammatical howlers in this column, not me) loves his grub. Pete trusts me to trust you to trust that what I write has some sort of gastronomic bearing on something, somewhere.

When an email that Pete sends me includes a recipe warning me that,  “…you would possibly be the only person I know who might appreciate it.” I take an interest. Pete’s recipe is his grandmother’s for a Greek egg, lemon and chicken soup. “So far so good” says Pete, and I concur, but then his Granny bungs a load of tripe into it.

That’s me out of the equation. Can’t be doing with tripe. You know how kidneys have the uric taste of what they’re employed to do? Well tripe tastes of its own designated function too. Grim. I’ve eaten nice tripe several times but only when its been steeped and cooked slowly in other, more flavoursome stuff. Then, it provides a textural, animal squelch on the teeth. Little else.

This is my last column whilst under the employ of Ludlow Food Centre. I’ve been there over three years, and I’ll miss the place hugely. As farm shops go, you’ll find no better, anywhere. The LFC redefined the farm shop and turned the concept upside down. I don’t need to fawn, or references, but if you haven’t been, just go.

The very term farm shop doesn’t justify this place. It’s a ‘shop’ that employs ninety (mainly local) people, produces 50% in-house of everything it sells, and runs a cafĂ©, hotel and Post Office simultaneously, whilst picking up awards on an almost weekly basis for producing consistently brilliant tucker. A phenomenal achievement.

When the Food Centre opened its doors nearly seven years ago there was a bit of a hoo-ha, and almost a local willingness for the place to fail (as frequently there is round here when folk come up with something a bit new and clever). But the naysayers were quickly proven wrong, and Viscount Windsor and his family are responsible for setting up one of the UK’s greatest gastronomic success stories of a generation.

Enterprises like the Ludlow Food Centre directly support the local community and its food producing talent in a way that no supermarket ever would or could, however clever their marketing may seem. When clever Dudley Martin makes his cheese, the milk has literally come from half a mile away; John’s meat that he butchers so beautifully comes from the other side of the A49; no gimmicks, it’s just the way they do things down in Bromfield, and I for one am jolly proud to have been involved. It’s been a blast.

Now, time to crack on with Pete’s Granny’s tripe recipe. Shudder…

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