Missing Links By Alec Winwood La Manga Club Magazine
The title above refers not to golf courses but to our local English butcher’s shop. ‘Missing Links’, in Los Belones, got my attention when I had Zenkers Diverticulum, a swallowing problem. Most of my food had to go through a blender.
But we discovered that their meats were so tender that we could just cut them up and add them to my diet. What a treat: juicy steaks, crispy lamb cutlets, succulent pork chops. Wonderful.
After a successful throat operation I now eat normally. However, I remain grateful to the butchers, Paul and Stephanie Johnson. (‘Call me Steph, Stephanie is for Sunday best’). Of course I’ll try not to let my gratitude influence this piece.
An obvious first question when I interviewed Paul in March: what did he make of the current horsemeat scandal? Perhaps not surprisingly he placed the blame with supermarkets and the price pressure they put on suppliers.
‘The small butcher is disappearing and with him go the quality products’, said he. Paul obtains his meat: beef, lamb, pork and poultry from three of the best suppliers in Spain. ‘LMC owners and others patronise us because they want quality - and that’s what we’ve always aimed to provide, said Paul. ‘Always’ goes back a long way: Paul’s father and grandfather were UK master butchers too.
When they lived in the UK, Paul used to visit friends in LMC for golf. Hence he was familiar with the area and the life here. Incidentally he’s a respectable golfer: playing off ten - forget butchers’ hooks and bacon slices. (Okay, best forgotten).
Out of the blue Paul and Steph received a good offer for their butcher’s UK business in Peterborough. They accepted and bought an apartment in Cabo de Palos. They opened their pristine shop premises here in 2006.
This was a new beginning for the Johnsons, especially Steph. A children’s speech therapist by profession, she soon adapted. Steph now manages the front of shop and visibly enjoys that. She’s also renowned for her tasty bacon sandwiches. (From mouth altering to mouth watering in one fell swoop). She said, ‘We’re very happy here and like meeting so many interesting people. I just miss our daughter, Dayni. She was still at university when we moved country and she remained in the UK.’ Dayni - like her mother before her is devoting herself to helping others - she works with addicts.
One respected owner summed up her reasons for shopping there this way. “You probably pay a little more, but you get the quality. And they’re a cheery, hard-working couple who keep the place immaculate.
Missing Links, as well as offering a fine selection of meats, sells many products made on the
premises. These include pork pies, Cornish pasties, steak in ale pasties - even vegetarian products - plus burgers and various slices as well as a dozen different types of sausages.
They bring in plenty to tempt us too: pickled onions, chutneys, jars of tangy English mustard to rich fruit cakes and excellent iced cakes for special occasions.
Here’s a challenge. Buy one of their warm melted cheese and onion slices in flaky pastry, take a bite and then try to save the rest for when you get back to LMC. Go on, try.