Been There, Read That – This Little Piggy…

Two of the most notable things I’ve read this week in the world of food writing have either been specifically about pig-products or featured them prominently.

Anyone who read the NY Times food section this week – or any of the food-press related blogs for that matter – probably read Harold McGee’s “Bringing Flavor Back to the Ham” in his Curious Cook column. First of all, being a huge fan of anything pig, I was sure to appreciate this article no matter what; and having tasted the array of country hams on offer at Momofuku Ssam Bar, I am well aware of the sensual pleasures found in a thin slice of a well-crafted ham.

What really sticks with me about this article is McGee’s writing. I aspire to write like him. Who else but Harold McGee can draw you in with a sensually vivid opening line like this:

“Have you ever placed a vanishingly thin morsel of rosy meat on your tongue and had it fill your mouth with deepest porkiness, or the aroma of tropical fruits, or caramel, or chocolate? Or all of the above?”

Then lead you so willingly through an equally sensual description of the science and history behind the ham making process in the American south? MFK Fisher (see: The gastronomical me), one of my all-time favorite authors, could make a dried out tangerine segment sound like the most sensual of treats, but could she write of catalyzing enzymes, amino acids, and odorless fats coming together in “aromatic fragments” with a “density of flavor and texture”? Not like Harold McGee!

The second notable pork-centric thing I read this week was on The Amateur Gourmet, a lively blog written by Adam Roberts (who recently visited our blogging class). He wrote of his recent meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a farm-to-table restaurant brought to us by Dan Barber (FCI Alum) and James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Chef of 2009. Roberts takes the reader on well-photographed reminiscence of his experience from farm to table including a visit to the nursing piglets on the farm. He also included an “after” picture of sorts – BHSB’s famed “face bacon” made from pig cheeks. Thanks Adam for promoting being comfortable with where your food comes from!

For more good reading on all things pork, I recommend my favorite pork cookbook: Pork and Sons

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