For a six-ingredient food product, it's taken on a life of its own. Spam — the square-shaped mash-up of pork, water, salt, potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrate — recently celebrated its 77th anniversary of being alternately maligned, celebrated, musicalized, or the subject of urban legend (one particularly pervasive myth insists that its name is actually an acronym for "Scientifically Processed Animal Matter"). And despite today's more locavore approach to food and some unkind memories from soldiers who were served Spam during WWII, Spam has entered its third quarter-century on the rise.
'I Butchered a Pig' - The process of butchering an entire pig while trying not to waste anything, documented by Mefi's own backseatpilot. [via mefi projects]
I Would Rather Be Herod’s Pig: The History of a Taboo - "The story of how pigs became the world’s most divisive meal." [more inside]
"If we start from the guts, we go back to our origin. It is the butchers, in the end, that bring our food back to the rusticness of the tribe." Italian butcher Dario Cecchini, guts a pig, and discusses the tradition and art of butchering and the importance of being "responsible carnivores...thankful for the gift." Cecchini is the "Dante-quoting butcher" featured in Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany. And here's another video with a similar message, but a different piece of meat, more details about his village as a "tiny little gastronomic republic" and instructions on how to use every piece of the pig "in the best way."
Danish Crown is the world's largest exporter of pork, killing approximately 100,000 pigs a week to cater to the growing global demand for meat. Alastair Philip Wiper visited the company's abattoir in Horsens to capture a behind-the-scenes look at the entire process, starting at the pens where the pigs arrive and moving through the spaces where the animals are slaughtered, butchered and packaged for sale.
The Great Hog-Eating Confederacy
Early Southerners ate a rather limited and unvarying diet. At table the famished guest seldom found more than bacon, corn pone, and coffee sweetened with molasses. Pioneering sociologist Harriet Martineau complained that “little else than pork, under all manner of disguises” sustained her during her visit to the American SouthFor the most part, slaves observed the same diet as poor white farmers. Though many kept gardens, and thus supplemented their rations of pork and corn with a wide variety of vegetables, they had otherwise little opportunity to augment their diet.. Another traveler griped that that he had “never fallen in with any cooking so villainous.” A steady assault of “rusty salt pork, boiled or fried … and musty corn meal dodgers” brought his stomach to surrender. Rarely did “a vegetable of any description” make it on his plate, and “no milk, butter, eggs, or the semblance of a condiment” did he once see.Christine Baumgarthuber is a writer for The New Inquiry and runs the blog The Austerity Kitchen. [more inside]
He does not cook like you do. But I would like an invitation for dinner: Cajun Stuffed Pork Chops with Bacon [more inside]
Rob Levitt of Mado in Chicago butchering a pig. 19 more videos submitted by chefs and butchers to Protein University, a project that aims to "create an online resource populated with a family tree of butchery techniques from whole animal breakdowns to sausage making from across the globe". [more inside]
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley opens up another Ask Chuck Webcast. The people respond. Grassley answers.
Want to have a small bacon pick-me-up in the office or away from home? The food blog, Homesick Texan, presents the traditional recipe for Bacon Jam.
Our Decrepit Food Factories. Michael Pollan on what sustainability is really about. [Via Gristmill.]
On ham, with a fascinating (well, unless you're kosher) history of colonial curing methods.
Salad? mmhmm. If you're not one for the ever-generic chicken caesar, well, there are alternatives. (in keeping with recent baconposts, of course.)
Pork Farmers in Hog Heaven! Atkins and skyrocketing beef prices result in pork producers "experiencing demand far in excess of anything [they]'ve seen historically." Pork prices are very high on the spot and futures market but still a value relative to meat. Perhaps this will increase the demand for tasty Berkshire hog pork, the kind that pre-dates the breeding which produced the "other white meat."
I always knew that the proper supply chain management ebusiness plan could free me from the hell that is cleaning those pesky pig intestines.