Sun | Jun 13, 2021

Bringing home the bacon

Published:Saturday | March 24, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Tony Deyal, Contributor


Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub, and who do you think they be?


The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker, all put out to sea.

(19th-century nursery rhyme)


Since they started that fateful journey in the 1830s, the candlestick maker has waxed warm and has been doing well off hurricanes and Valentine's Day, and the baker is rolling in dough.

The butcher, though, has shown that he is several cuts above the rest. Unlike the butcher who backed into the bacon slicer and got a little behind in his orders, this fourth-generation butcher is now preparing to have his taste buds insured for £1 million.

This kind of insurance is not unique. When Mariah Carey won the Legs of a Goddess Award in May 2006, she insured her legs for a billion dollars. Carey is not alone; she's joined by Mary Hart, Heidi Klum, Brooke Shields, Tina Turner, Jamie Lee Curtis and Rihanna, who all have policies on their legs. Dolly Parton insured each of her breasts, the so-called 'national treasures', for US$300,000 each.

Not to be outdone, Holly Madison, a former Hugh Hefner playmate, took out a US$1-million insurance policy on her breasts with Lloyd's of London. She explained, "I've heard about people getting body parts insured, and I thought, why not? Because if anything happened to my boobs, I'd be out for a few months and I'd probably be out a million dollars, I thought I'd cover my assets." Clearly, Hefner did not cover them enough.

'Give me a break!'

Cricketer Merv Hughes, described by former Australian Captain Steve Waugh as his "favourite animal", insured his famous moustache for US$370,000. If you want a policy that is truly outstanding and enough to make you say, "Give me a break," American rocker, David Lee Roth (originally of Van Halen), insured his sperm to protect him from 'groupie' paternity suits.

Movie star Bette Davis took out a US$28,000 policy in case she lost her waistline. Rocker Gene Simmons of KISS insured his tongue when he had it extended surgically. It is not known whether the insurance was specifically against felines so he could stick out his tongue if anyone asked, "Cat got your tongue?"

David Beckham insured his legs and feet for US$70 million. There was some loose talk that it was in case his wife broke his legs when she found out about an ongoing affair he had with Shery Shabani, whose children attend the same £14,000-a-year Hollywood school that the Beckham kids go to - in other words, a 'posh' school that may have started the spicy romance.

Ageing singer Tom Jones took out a US$7 million policy in case of a freak accident that might cause him to lose his chest hair even though the "green, green grass of home" has given way to the grey, grey grass of Tom.

In the wine and food business, coffee taster Gennaro Pelliccia, who samples products for Costa Coffee, has had his tongue insured for £10m with Lloyd's of London. In 2008, Dutch winemaker Ilja Gort insured his nose for €5m to cover against any incident that could threaten his livelihood. Food critic, Egon Ronay, insured his taste buds for US$400,000.

Best palate in the business

So what makes the taste buds of this butcher so special that they must be insured? Essentially, they bring home the bacon. According to Britain's Independent newspaper, "Keith Fisher will be covered for the huge sum to protect his unparalleled sense of taste, which has been responsible for distinguishing more than 50,000 cuts and cures of bacon during a 43-year career."

The paper added, "Mr Fisher's palate is widely considered to be the best in the business and means he can identify any variety or cure of pork in the world. He said taste has always played a huge role in his life, and was honoured to discover his taste buds were to be insured for the eye-raising sum. The 61-year-old said: 'I'm passionate about quality bacon and the range of cuts and cures that we produce is just outstanding. Butchers, of course, have been perfecting the art of bacon curing for hundreds of years, but it's great to see the huge variety that is now available in supermarkets too. My ability to taste the subtleties in different producers' bacon has stood me in very good stead over the years and has proven to be critically important when it comes to judging the best of the best.'"

Mr Fisher is now in pig's heaven, as he sits on the board of the British Pig Executive, an organisation devoted to the sustainability of British pork and bacon, and regularly judges the grades of pork cuts.

One wonders what the celebrity will do to Mr Fisher. As a bacon expert, he will certainly be the butt of many jokes. I can see the endless repetition of, "Have you got pigs' feet?" The butcher answers, "Yes, sir." And the response, "Well, trot over and get me a pound o' mince then, porky!"

Of course, Lloyd's has not yet agreed. It might react like the customer in this joke. A man walks into a butcher shop. The butcher says, "Bet you 10 pounds that you can't jump up and touch the meat that's hung up on the ceiling with your hand." The man replies, "No thanks."

The butcher then proposes, "OK, bet you 20 quid that you can't jump up and hit the meat that's hung up on the ceiling." The man shakes his head and responds, "No thanks, mate."

The butcher then ups the ante. "OK, OK, I'll give you a hundred quid if you can do it." The man thinks a moment and then says, "No thanks, mate, the steaks are too high."

Tony Deyal, in his day as fond of Bacon as he was of Shakespeare, once told a butcher, "I want a pound of bacon and make it lean." The butcher answered, "Certainly, sir, which way?"