Do you know what day it is today ? I thought not. It's only the
feast day of St. Martin of Tours, patron saint of Vintners and
Drunkards and also just happens to be the day for starting to
drink wine from the new grape vintage, tradition goes.
It was also, in my father's time, the traditional day for
slaughtering the pig that wouldn't gain any more over the
Winter, only eating and wasting valuable feed. The butchered
carcass would be layered in a tea-chest with copious quantities
of salt ,best bits on the bottom and ending up with the shoulder,
hocks, cheeks and trotters on top.
Quite often ,if it had been a very large pig, all the meat could
not be cured in this way and whatever could not be saved
was feasted on for a few days of Martinmas, the last feast
before Christmas, which is why Martinmas was always known
as Split-Stomach Day .