Meaty faggots

My friend Aric was astonished yesterday to come across this food product:

Pork me: a classic presentation of faggots, in a brown gravy, accompanied by peas and mashed potatoes

No doubt he would find the following news bulletin (from Wikipedia) remarkable:

The “nose-to-tail eating” trend has resulted in greater demand for faggots in the 21st century.

Aric is American and gay, so of course pork faggots — being British and devoid of sexual associations (beyond those attending on any sort of meatball) —  are neither familiar nor salient to him.

More details from the Wikipedia article:

Faggots are meatballs made from minced off-cuts and offal, especially pork (traditionally pig’s heart, liver, and fatty belly meat or bacon) together with herbs for flavouring and sometimes added bread crumbs. It is a traditional dish in the United Kingdom, especially South and Mid Wales and the English Midlands.

Faggots originated as a traditional cheap food consumed by ordinary country people in Western England, particularly west Wiltshire and the West Midlands. Their popularity spread from there, especially to South Wales in the mid-nineteenth century, when many agricultural workers left the land to work in the rapidly expanding industry and mines of that area. Faggots are also known as “ducks” in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and Lancashire, often as “savoury ducks”.

… The dish gained in popularity during the rationing in World War II, but declined over the following decades. The “nose-to-tail eating” trend has resulted in greater demand for faggots in the 21st century; British supermarket chain Waitrose once again sold beef faggots from 2014 onwards and in 2018 it was estimated that “tens of millions” of faggots were eaten every year. Faggots are often homemade and are to be found in traditional butchers’ shops and market stalls, though larger supermarkets generally stock the Mr Brain’s brand of mass-produced faggot; this is a frozen food product available in the UK, made of liver and onions rolled into meatballs and served in a sauce. These differ significantly from traditional faggots, which have a coarser texture and contain far less water.

(Just savor that last sentence.)

Very fresh lexicography, from OED3 (June 2018!) on faggot, n.and adj.:

A. I. A bundle or bunch, and related senses.

… 5. A ball or (occasionally) patty of chopped or minced meat (esp. pig’s liver or other offal), mixed with bread, suet, herbs, etc., and sometimes wrapped in caul fat. Cf. rissole n. Usually in plural. [You almost never get served just one. That’s a fact about food practices, not really about the word faggot.]

1st cite: 1815 R. Rylance Epicure’s Almanack 62  Peripatetic restaurateurs, of whom may be purchased hot soup, baked faggots, grey peas boiled, and peas-pudding.

The food and its name are British (and both class- and region-related). Meanwhile, the sexual slang faggot (also its clipping fag) is originally American. Things are then set up for heavy-duty transpondial misunderstanding. Item, from the Metro (UK) on 11/6/13, in “Faggots firm fights for its food on Facebook”:

Mr Brain’s has launched a campaign to have references to the savoury snack reinstated after members on the site had their accounts blocked for raving about their favourite dish. Demanding ‘Facebook Freedom For Faggots’ the Bristol-born company is hoping to force the American social media giant into a rethink of its censorship of the term, widely used in a derogative way about gay people in the US. ‘We’re really sympathetic to Facebook’s need to monitor offensive words but in the UK, faggots are a favourite meal amongst lots of families,’ a Mr Brain’s spokesperson said. ‘Surely there must be a way that Facebook can allow us to talk about a traditional British dish?’ Protective of the prosperity of its pork-based offal product, Mr Brain’s said it was forced to act after fans saw their profile pages put on lockdown for mentioning the fact they ‘loved faggots’. A Facebook spokesman said the temporary bans were a ‘misunderstanding’ and that faggot was not explicitly censored by the site, but Mr Brain’s said their adverts using the word are still being blocked.

(I was sure I’d already posted about  comestible faggots, on this blog or Language Log, but apparently not. Probably it was something I said on soc.motss.)

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