I wanted some Pea soup by Audrey Simmons

peas-soupI fancied some red peas soup, homemade pea soup with all the trimmings – dumplings, a few potatoes, salt beef and the crowning glory of pig’s tail.  Now I now that’s not everyone idea of a good meal, but every so often I like a little ‘yard food’ to fuel my mind. On this day my need for Caribbean food became paramount.  I set out on a quest for pigs tails.  And here in lies my complaint.  My quest led me to walk up and down my high street.  On my travels I found all manner of Caribbean delicacies – Yams, Dasheen, Chocho, Avocados, Pumpkins the list is endless.  There was no shortages of meat shops all in a short distance from one another, all run by members of the Muslin community, no big deal I hear you cry. They greet you warmly, calling you ‘mummy or ‘aunty’, which does make me feel a little old, (but that’s because I’m not as young as I think I am, but that’s another story for another day), all selling Halal meat, the meat blessed in that ‘special’ way, but because of this belief, they do not sell pork, which means I don’t get my pigs tail. I’m not asking them to eat it, just sell it to me; a non-muslin, they are running a business after all, serving the local community, but they don’t…so my quest continues.  I enter the Butchers shop run by a British family, dad in the back, mum and daughter selling at the counter, there aren’t many of these shops left and I’m sure if I go back in a few weeks they would have closed down. I smile at the array of pork products on display.  Pork chops abound, spare ribs; mountain high, pork belly and bacon decorate the shelves, but my joy is short lived, for pig’s tail is not part of the British diet and so a British butcher would not stock it.  Asian shop keepers understand the African/Caribbean palate, they will stock chicken foot, cow foot and the odd goats head if you order it.

These are my choices.  So as a Black Atheist I’m caught up in a religious/cultural rock and hard place.  I am faced with buying religiously slaughtered meat, meat slaughtered in a way that I would say is inhumane, or going to a butcher that culturally doesn’t completely cater for my tastes. So far I have not seen a Black owned meat shop in my local area.  I am sure it will happen at some point in the not too distant future, but for now my quest continues for the illusive pigs tails.  That day I went home with Oxtail that I bought from the Asian meat shop; I tip a little rum in it, not enough to taste, just enough to make it unholy.


Audrey Simmons is one of the LBA organisers.

2 responses to “I wanted some Pea soup by Audrey Simmons”

  1. Me says:

    What side of London are you at?

    You can get pigs tail from many Colombian or Brazilian butchers. There are currently many in Seven Sisters, Stockwell, Elephant & Castle and Brixton. Also, many Irish and Polish butchers sell pigs tails.

    Good luck.

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