The Knitted Growler - Melton Mowbray 1878
Deep in Leicestershire hunters gathering at their latest meet near Melton Mowbray in 1878 noticed, after chasing a fox into a nearby thicket, an uncovered section of earth that had recently been turned over. Fearing they had stumbled across something quite sinister the Lord of the manor was immediately called and the earth removed.
The hole contained a pink ball of wool, underneath this they found several jars of a bitter hot sauce, several portions of cheese, tomatoes and a curious mixture that looked like mud but actually tasted sweet and sharp all at the same time. Muddy footprints around the hole showed a pig like creature had been there some time before.
Charles Burroughs our explorer had been in England some time writing up his latest discoveries and cataloguing the finding from his recent discovery, Edison’s Sherlock Sidewinder, when by chance he read about the discovery in the London Gazette. Charles had already had dealings with a similar creature in 1870 that he failed to discover in Germany, the Peppered Pork Pie Pig, and wondered if this could be a relative. The only difference it seemed was the German Pork Pie Pig buried Sauerkraut, cabbage and mushrooms instead and deduced that the bitter hot sauce that was found was obviously mustard, a passion shared by both species.
Charles arrived in Melton Mowbray in July of the same year and immediately asked to be shown the discovery. Although it had been several weeks since Charles notice a white fleshy transparent skin still scattered around the area creating a barely discernable trail leading deep into Brentingby Wood. Quietly Charles made his way deep into the forest. After a mile or so the forest seemed to change, gone were the wooden trunks, now they were replaced by stiff semi transparent ribbed curved columns, Charles had stumbled into Celery Hollow, a wild wood fabled for it’s heady smell and edible trees.
As he ventured further in he became aware of a clearing ahead and heard a soft grunting noise followed by a whirring. Charles paused and using moss from a nearby stone covered the base of his shoes to quieten his footsteps. The closer he got the more intrigued he was until at last as he saw the source of the noise.
A six foot high pig, or to be more accurate, a six foot high pink knitted pig complete with a corkscrew shaped tail and black and white furry ears. Its entire body was circular in shape with little ‘crimps’ around its rotund back. Charles was amazed, even more so as the Knitted Growler as we now know it, used its curlywhirly tail to twist out of the earth a massive pickled onion with a distinctive whirring sound. An onion so big it was the size of Charles head, the aroma smelt paradisiacal and was complimented with an additional aroma as the Growler used a dainty trotter to take a small piece of cheese, place it on top of the onion, add a dollop of the brown sweet sharp stuff and finally finish off the pickled tower with a slice of cucumber.
It was at that moment that the celery stick Charles had been leaning on decided to snap and he tumbled forward head over heels out into the open bringing him face to face with the Growler. The Growler looked at him, sniffed the air, gave a soft grunt and gently pushed the pickled tower towards him. Having been in situations like this all too regularly Charles took it to be a friendly gesture and using his handy pocket knife he sliced himself a bit of the large onion, added the cheese, a bit of the mysterious pickle then finally a slice of cucumber and took a bite.
It was one of the best things he had ever eaten, the onion was like nothing he had tasted before or since, peppery, spicy, juicy, sweet, it was all these things together and more. The Growler joined him and ate too but only after first placing it’s snout in a large jar full of what Charles had correctly surmised to be mustard.
This surreal Growler picnic went on until the giant onion was finished, all the cheese gone and nearly all the pickle and mustard had been consumed. Both sat contented and unable to walk from overly stuffed tummies. Later that night Charles bid farewell to his new friend and returned to Melton Mowbray with news of his find.
In order to shield the Knitted Growler from sightseers and even captivity Charles shared the location with one of the town’s most respected residents John Dickenson, owner of the towns Pie Business and creator of the Melton Pie popular with the huntsmen of the era. John promised Charles that he would visit and protect the Knitted Growler for as long as he should live and true to his word over the years John Dickenson built up quite a rapport with the Knitted Growler.
It has been said that the John and the Growler eventually came up with a special mix of flavours that was so good John used it in his pies, pies that eventually came so popular due to this secret ingredient they took the name of the town they were produced and even survive to this day, the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie.
Rumour has it that even the distinctive shape is based upon the Knitted Growler and somewhere in Melton Mowbray is a secret room that holds the special ingredients used in its production that makes them so distinctive, peppery, spicy, juicy, sweet... sound familiar?