Believed to originate from the West Midlands (UK), pork scratchings were originally a thrifty snack, designed to use up every last morsel of home slaughtered pigs, and were a bi-product from fat rendering. Consisting of a the skin and a layer of fat, fried or baked until crisp and seasoned with salt they make a satisfying and tasty snack.
Not unsurprisingly it was butchers that first saw the commercial possibilities of the humble pork scratching, with their easy access to the raw ingredient. Today there are countless companies who specialise in their production, some staying close to the original roots emphasising the traditional style (with salt and maybe a little pepper), whilst others in a bid to increase their appeal have gentrified the scratching, experimenting with flavourings and adding new fans to the millions that enjoy this simple snack.
However you like your pork scratching I'm sure that we can all agree that nothing beats a portion with a pint of your favourite.
Called Pork Crunch in the UK there are scores of other nations who claim a very similar snack as their own. The Chicharron from Spain is probably the oldest known example and is something that the Conquistadors took with them and are now popular in all ex-Spanish territories. In Brazil they are called Torresmo and in the US they are pork rinds. The skin used to make them has less fat than for pork scratchings and the seasoning more subtle. They can be eaten on their own or used as a vehicle for other flavourings. In Mexico, for example, they are used as to scoop up salsa, guacamole and sour cream.
Still delicious, but they taste lighter and feel more refined than the humble scratching, but again mass consumerism has led to some producers experimenting with flavours and even other raw ingredients, such as duck or chicken skins or even vegetarian versions.