I was delighted the other day when a friend who controls the deer on a local estate gave me a haunch of Venison from his well stocked freezer. It presented a perfect opportunity for me to try out the new Damascus filleting and boning knife I had treated myself to for Christmas. Purchased from Lakeland Plastics it was said to be sharpened by techniques used to make Samurai swords with a super-hard carbon steel core with 67 coatings including a full tang with an ice tempered blade, yet strong and flexible with a superior cutting edge.
I am used to using hand tools so to speak but when I unwrapped it and got it out of the box, I would describe the level of sharpness on the blade as super scary. It made short work of the haunch and I suddenly realised what I had been missing out on all this time.
As an example, some time ago another pal gave me a haunch but this time from a Wild Boar (wild it was absolutely furious!) which was massive. I can’t imagine how big the animal was itself but armed with my old regular knife and sharpening steel I can remember the cutting of the meat taking forever. Just shows you are never too old to learn.
A friend of Sarah’s rang and I related the tale about my venison. A big fan of eating game she lamented the recent lack of game in her diet and how she would love to get hold of some. Now she has been exceptionally generous in the past with vegetables from her well stocked patch and in fact said she was ringing to arrange to bring some veg down for Sarah.
I told her I would have a look in the freezer and a day later presented her with a couple of cuts of venison, a brace of pheasant and a brace of partridge. It doesn’t get much better than that and we were more than pleased to have the opportunity to return her kindness.
I was talking to Sarah about this and it kind of encapsulated why we love living down here in rural Devon so much. The availability of excellent fresh local produce either swapped or purchased from friends and neighbours is a way of life that is eminently natural here and has been accepted for centuries.
Now I can imagine a lot of people reading this blog will say so what, we have always lived life like that and what you are describing is nothing new. That’s fair enough but I would bet a lot more people who read this blog are living in crowded conurbations and do not even know who their neighbours are let alone exchange local goods with them.
It is the same with our neighbour who supplies us with eggs, another one I buy my logs from not to mention some of the best honey in Devon from a friend a couple of villages away. Another pal rears his own Tamworth pigs and the crackling on the skilfully butchered half pig we normally purchase for the freezer has to be tasted to be believed. We are not only swapping or trading locally but enjoying some of the best flavours and quality available.
In moving to Devon we have not just re-located into a new home but a caring sharing community that still unconsciously holds on to the old values which are considered not only normal but sacrosanct. I can live with that, long may it continue.
Oh, and just to finish, the venison was superb cooked with red wine, capers and shallots. The meat was delicious, cut and diced into perfect cubes by my new knife.
It’s the simple things in life is it not?