Crackling

Those of us who eat pork will salivate at the thought of munching on scrumptious braai-ed or roasted pork fat. The British have a large industry where pork crackling is sold in potato crisp like packets for the crackling enthusiast on the run!

Besides pork crackling, my own thoughts of crackling take me back to 45 Hanson St in Wellington New Zealand, where the Varoy family of eight resided! Dad worked for the City Council, (municipality in RSA jargon), and after building projects were complete, Dad would organize lorry loads of offcut timber that we stored under the house. It was under this house where we learnt to wield an axe, chopping the timber into fire wood. We also learnt respect for the spiders that inhabited the gloom of that basement, prowling around looking for juicy kids to feast on!

Part of our further education was to then, with the help of the Evening Post or The Dominion newspapers, build a crackling fire in the fireplace. Our carpets in that cosy lounge didn’t last long because even with a spark guard, the crackling fire would spit sparks in every direction. Eventually a carpet burning spark would find it’s way past the guard!

My true reference to crackling is actually a favourite in our household and was also that of Linda’s late Mum, Marie. Autumn Harvest Crackling is an economically priced crisp perlé wine and although frowned upon by those in the know, the thought of an ice cold glass of Crackling at the end of one’s working day will often give me a salivating moment!

The particular crackling moment I have in mind, happened on a Monday after a massively disappointing day. A good friend had phoned suggesting a quick get together at our home, (where there is always a copious supply of Autumn Harvest Crackling), to discuss how we were to change the world! It didn’t suit Linda due to a previous engagement, so we two boys were sent to the local Sushi Bar for a beer.

Meeting in the car park I suggested to my good friend that I had been looking forward to a glass of Crackling and not really a beer! Knowing that Autumn Harvest Crackling is not served in any restaurant that we know of, let alone in this Sushi Bar, he suggested that we buy a bottle from the local supermarket and pay the corkage! Such a brain will one day become worm food, shame!

Off we went to the supermarket and I had already decided that to make the deal worth it, I bought a litre bottle of the Crackling. As I reached into the fridge for my litre bottle, a construction worker on his way home to wherever, also grabbed a bottle and added it to the loaf of bread in his shopping basket! Obviously people with good taste come from all walks of life!

Armed with the R26.99 litre bottle of Crackling we sat at the Sushi Bar and enquired of our patron what the corkage charge was. At the mention of R45.00 my friend suggested to our patron that R30 or R35 might be a more reasonable figure. I said that the R45.00 was reasonable, just bring the sushi menu and glasses, and ice! We sat and discussed our respective holidays and obviously our plans to change the World, whilst we awaited Linda’s presence. In between various plates of sushi, we finished that first litre way too quickly!

My friend excused himself saying he was off to buy another bottle. He arrived back, bold as brass, with another litre which he hadn’t even bothered to disguise in a shopping bag! (Has the man got no pride?) He again negotiated with our patron about the corkage. As we ordered more sushi, Linda called saying she was on her way. I told her we had a surprise for her, to chase her on her way.

I wonder if this is the bottle of wine Diamond had in mind?
I wonder if this is the bottle of wine Diamond had in mind?

Linda rocked up to the one piece of Salmon sashimi I had saved for her, and the unfamiliar sight of a bottle of Autumn Harvest Crackling on a restaurant table! Our patron took our orders, and we gradually emptied the 2nd bottle of Crackling while we noshed on more delicious sushi! We solved many of the World’s problems that evening, and ours seemed inconsequential!

We settled the bill and noticed that the sushi master had given us a 22% discount on the corkage, making the R26.99 litre of crackling a better proposition. Halfway home I remembered I had left my backpack next to our table. Arriving back at our sushi locale, besides my backpack, I was handed my friend’s shopping bag with his milk for his morning coffee!

Thank goodness his phone’s battery had gone flat! We had no milk in the fridge at home!

Neil Diamond’s Cracklin’ Rosie goes way back to 1971. According to David Wild who wrote about Neil Diamond, Cracklin’ Rosie is actually a bottle of wine. Diamond had heard about a tribe of Indians in the cold North of Canada. There is a shortage of woman within the tribe and when the men go out on Saturday nights, the girls always get a man! The men that don’t get a girl, get a bottle of Cracklin’ Rosie! That, according to legend, is their girl for the weekend!

In 1971 I was only twenty years old! It would be many years before I was introduced to Autumn Harvest Crackling!

Here is the link to Neil Singing Cracklin’ Rosie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6FfjlxZLTk

St Vincent School for The Deaf  do wonderful work for the hard of hearing. It would be so cool if the pupils could listen to Cracklin’ Rosie!