MEMORIES has spent much of 2021 investigating the tastes of yesterday that were once available in your local butcher in those pre-supermarket days when there really was a butcher’s shop on every corner.

But for every joint, for every specialised cut of meat, that was sold, there were the leftovers, the offal and the organs. None of it could be thrown away; it had to be turned into something edible.

Butchers were, in effect, the first takeaways, selling cheap dishes to go: chitterlings, savoury ducks, saveloys and – drum roll – pork dips.

Pork dips used to be ubiquitous. Every butcher did their own pork dip, and so this week, on the recommendation of countless readers, Memories visited Gregorys in Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland, which is said to be the last place that proudly still sells a pork dip.

“With all the trimmings?” asked the lady behind the counter.

Of course. So one half of the bread bun was smothered with yellow pease pudding – as Memories 514, pease pudding is a traditional Durham accompaniment, made from yellow split peas, simmered in bacon stock until tender and then mashed up with a knob of butter and a spoonful of cream from the top of a bottle of full fat milk.

The other half was smeared with stuffing.

Then came a slice of cold roast pork and it was finished with a dollop of soft, warm, white onions.

In the olden days, there would then have come the serving that gave the delicacy its name: the closed bun would have been dipped in either hot gravy or porky fat from some sausages sizzling nearby.

Even without the dipping, the pork dip was a lovely combination of the smooth pease pudding with herbiness of the stuffing and the onioniness of the onion. A hot dip would have made it sensational.

But perhaps even in Bishop Auckland, the pork dip is endangered. The chap behind us in the queue asked simply for a "pork and stuffing sandwich".

BREAKING NEWS: Bernard from Barney tells us on Twitter that McNab’s bookshop and café in Barnard Castle serves a vegan version of a pork dip which comes with its own pot of gravy for dipping. If it is a pork dip without pork, it must just be a dip, but it still sounds worth dipping into…

A PORK DIP is not the only kind of dip. While searching for the derivation of the word “saveloy”, the Oxford English Dictionary defines the “saveloy dip” as being “a type of sandwich, popular in the north east of England, typically consisting of saveloy, pease pudding, and mustard in a bun, which is dipped in gravy or fat before serving.”

To prove that the saveloy dip exists, the dictionary offers a quote from the Sunderland Echo of October 1947: “It's about time some of the present MPs stopped glossing over present hardships by reminding us of bad old days, which were in fact days of pot-pies, oven pies, meat puddings, broth with dumplings and saveloy dips.”

So does the saveloy dip still exist anywhere?

And are there any other traditional delicacies we should be trying, or that you remember but can’t get hold of now?

MEMORIES 514 contained a recipe for Pease Pudding (it has nothing to do with the Pease family, but pease is the old plural of peas) from the County Durham WI Cookery Book published in 1970. To complete our pork dip, the book also contains a recipe for stuffing. It comes from the Stainton and Streatlam WI, near Barnard Castle:

Sage and Onion Stuffing


4oz breadcrumbs; 4 onions – boiled and chopped; 2 teaspoons sage; 1½ oz suet; egg and milk; salt and pepper


Mix ingredients together. Season well. Bind if necessary with egg and milk. Use to stuff pork, duck etc, or bake in a well greased baking tin. Serve as required.

MEMORIES 525 was a special sizzling edition because it featured the Zissler family of butchers from Germany. George and Magdalene were teenage lovers who left their native Niedernhall in Baden Württemberg in 1868 and, via Hartlepool, established a butchering dynasty in Darlington which lasted until 1999.

The article made it into the hands of Karl-Heinz Wüstner, a local historian in Baden Württemberg who has studied how in the mid 19th Century pork butchers left his Hohenlohe area and brought new tastes to the growing industrial communities of England.

Hohenlohe was an agricultural area where butchers’ shops were effectively inns, offering quick food to go. They settled in English ports – South Shields had a strong contingent of German butchers – and then spread out.

Karl-Heinz’s records show that six Hohenlohe-born Zisslers settled in south Durham. As well as George and Magdalene in Darlington, there was Georg and Hannah who established a butcher’s in Barton, and Katherine who married a Mr Glattbach (who must have been German) and set up butcher’s in Bishop Auckland and Willington.

Perhaps the success of the Zisslers encouraged other Hohenlohe butchers to try their skills in the Durham coalfield. Near the end of the 19th Century, Heinrich Kress and Gottlob Hepperle set up shops in Darlington, while the Keller brothers, Robert, Matthew and Heinrich, from Altkrautheim, had a shop in Bishop Auckland, as did Joachim and Kriemhild Xschweinmetzger – not must their surname have looked fantastic above a Newgate Street shop but “schwein” means “pig” and “metzger” means “butcher”.

The outbreak of the First World War caused many butchers to return, but some, like the Zisslers, were settled enough to ride out the unpleasantness.

In Middlesbrough today, the Weschenfelder’s sausage-making supplies company is run by a fifth generation descended from Ludwig who came over in 1898 as an apprentice to his uncle who was already established in the Boro. Ludwig was interned on the Isle of Man during the war but returned to Middlesbrough in 1921 to establish a sausage skin business which now boasts an extremely tasty looking website.

Those old time tastes in full…

Chitterlings: Also known as “pork poo tubes”, as they were made out of intestines, which, long and thin, dangled in a good butcher’s shop window. They needed serious cleaning before consumption, as they often had faeces hidden somewhere along their lengths which meant they were officially regarded as a noxious, and nauseous, substance. When fried, they tasted rubbery, but butchers often sold them hot to go, lathered in vinegar and salt and pepper. As stomach churning as they sound, they were regarded as a south Durham delicacy, but we have had no reports that “chitlins” are still available from anywhere.

Savoury ducks: Fondly remembered, and still available in old-fashioned butchers, these were all the leftovers – including bits of beef – minced up with breadcrumbs (or stale bread) and seasoning, shaped into the size of tennis balls and wrapped in pig’s caul (or veil or kell, which was a tasty stomach membrane), and then baked. Butchers in this area traditionally prepared them on a Thursday ahead of the weekend rush, so many families would go to the butchers on a Thursday evening with a bowl to buy hot ducks, smothered in hot gravy, as a cheap treat. Also known as penny ducks because of their cost, and, sliced and fried, they go well in an English breakfast instead of a sausage.

Haslet: Very similar to a savoury duck, only made exclusively from pork offal and sold almost as a traybake.

Saveloy: A sausage made from ground pork leftovers, well spiced and well coloured. Saveloys are bright red and smoked (over beech wood, if you are doing it really properly). They were then boiled and sold hot for immediate consumption. They probably originate from the Savoy region of France, but are most associated in the North-East with German butchers.

Polony: Similar to saveloy, only bright pink, not smoked, and usually served cold in slices. They are said to originate from Italy, specifically Bologna which is how they get their name.

Pork dips: A sandwich of hot pork with pease pudding, stuffing and onions which was dipped in gravy or sizzling fat