Alice-Azania Jarvis: Cheap cuts are staying top of my menu

In The Red

"You done this before?" I hate these conversations. I have them all the time: at my butcher, at the fish stand in the local market. "Yes!" I say, feeling sheepish. It happens when I buy oxtail. Or kidneys. Or mackerel. Or sardines. Or any of the other foods that your grandmother used to cook. The butcher/fishmonger/whatever looks at me in amusement, like some relic from another era. "Are you sure? It's usually just the old girls who like that."

I buy them because I love them. Last weekend was spent lovingly assembling, and then enjoying, an oxtail stew so rich I felt like I'd been out to dinner and had a three-course meal. And there's nothing like roast mackerel with lemon and thyme to cheer you up at the end of a dismal day (this was my comfort food of choice during the London riots, as angry groups ran past to smash up the nearby Tesco). But they have one other advantage, too: they're cheap. Very cheap indeed.

It cost £4 for enough oxtail to feed four people: a big casserole pot full. Never mind that my boyfriend and I managed to gobble it down between the two of us, going back for second, then third helpings. Yet for some reason, people are queuing up at supermarkets to buy twin packs of chicken breast for the same amount. Don't they realise they're being ripped off?

Increasingly, more people are cottoning on to the "forgotten cuts". You see it on the menus of fashionable restaurants: tripe, liver, kidneys – they're all the rage. As are sardines, cockles, winkles and mackerel. I can think of at least half a dozen high-end openings in recent years where retro food is given the star treatment. But going to a high-end restaurant is hardly the best way to cut down your grocery bill. What I don't understand is why they're not more popular in the home, among regular cooks like me.

Perhaps it's the supermarkets' fault. I know I don't take advantage of cheap cuts nearly as much as I would if I could pick them up on my way home. Going to the butcher's requires effort, going out of my way, early in the morning before I leave for work. None of the four shops I pass on the commute has a meat counter – they just have the meat aisle, crammed full of the usual suspects. So, until they change I know where you'll find me: at my local butcher, being ridiculed by a man in a white coat...

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    PMO Analyst - London - Banking - £350 - £400

    £350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Banking - London - £350 -£400 per d...

    Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

    £300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

    Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

    Test Lead - London - Investment Banking

    £475 - £525 per day: Orgtel: Test Lead, London, Investment Banking, Technical ...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn