They have Tesco here, but not as we know it. A trip to the meat counter reveals a selection of the usual offerings in those plastic trays: pork chops, chicken thighs and big red chunks of beef ready for roasting. Alongside these, I see items that are less common back home: a cow’s tongue, neatly coiled up so it fits into the rectangular container, two dozen chicken necks which looked like skinned babies’ arms with the hands sliced off and a whole rabbit, also flayed but not boned so it still retains its original rabbit like shape, minus the head and ears. Nothing is organic so there’s no hope of finding a free-range chicken so I’m forced to pick up a battery-reared one for sixty crowns: less than three pounds. I know its plumpness is all fat rather than real meat; it will dissolve in the roasting tin to a dried up carcass.
The picture you can see of a man happily sucking up a sausage is on display in the butchers next to our flat. Below him there is a pile of pigs trotters. Offal is very fashionable in London these days. Fergus Henderson made his name selling the concept of ‘nose to tail’ eating to metropolitan diners at the St John in Clerkenwell. Czech Man tried to take me there once as a surprise but they were fully booked even on a Tuesday night. I probably had a lucky escape. The smell of offal makes me want to heave.
When I went to Czech Man’s parents for the weekend, his mum welcomed us with fried potato pancakes which were arranged in a little basket on the table and sausages. The sausages were those long skinny frankfurters which she served to us on a plate with two blobs of mustard next to them. We ate them with our hands, dipping the sausage into the mustard before biting into it. I felt just as surprised as the man in the picture about this new way of consuming questionable meat products but I chomped it down regardless.
When I come out of the tube on my way home the first thing I notice is the aroma coming from the hot dog stall. One day I’ll probably give in and buy one, but somehow I know they can’t taste as good as they smell.