In Praise of Porky

About a year ago, I started eating red meat again, though in limited quantities, after more than 20 years off.

Why’d I give piggy and moo cow in the first place? Bit of a story involving an ex-girlfriend, and deciding to either quit red meat and pork, or take up religion to gain some inner strength. Long story short, you don’t have to give donations to vegetarianism, so I went that route. I was only gonna do it for a few months, and it ended up being tewnty-two years.

Why’d I return? because I found myself in Tuscany, for the Lucca show, watching Judith dine on wild boar stew, while the only option open to me was salt cod and fava beans. Now, I know this is supposedly a delicacy. BUT…it’s also salt cod and fava beans, and it tastes exactly how it sounds.

“This is dumb,” I thought to myself, mashing fish and legumes into a miserable paste. “Here I am in one of the gastronomic capitals of the world, eating salt cod and fava beans.”

So I told myself that if I ever found myself in that position again, I’d suck it up and have the pig. Or the cow. Sorry, Porky!

Reading blogging on her and Chris’ recent food adventures in New York City, I am reminded of something.

It’s almost a year after starting my occasional meat odyssey (which sounds slightly rude, doesn’t it?), and there are a few items I’ve been longing – longing – for, these past 20 years. And I’ve yet to try them again.

(1) A Chicago style hot dog.

(2) A trip to a top-notch Brazilian meat-on-a-sword restaurant.

(3) A real New York Reuben, and

(4) An Arby’s roast beef sandwich and a Burger King Whopper (which I fully realize will be by far the most disappointing of the menu items on this list list, but there you go. I used to love those things when I was a kid. I also loved Abba. Sue me).

Truth be told, I don’t eat much beef or pork at all, these days. Still, I gotta say: after 20 years off, bacon – real, applewood-smoked bacon, exploding with taste in a way that, say, tofu don’t – may be the best thing I’ve tasted in two decades.

Most disappointing meaty menu item revisited? The hamburger. Only tried one real great one, and that was off somebody’s humble backyard barbecue. Most are far too greasy, and disquieting in taste. But I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t been to any places that specialize in the stuff.

Biggest surprise? How easy it was to dive into an amazing ribeye steak, served rare.

Now, 90% of the time, I’ll stick with seafood (ahhhh, seafood – had an amazing skate wing last night at Sardine, and perhaps the best moules frites I’ve had outside of Bouchon) and poultry. But wanna know the first thing that popped to mind, after biting into bacon – real bacon – for the first time in over two decades, on an amazing Cafe Soliel BLT?

“Some pig.”



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