Fifty flavours of pork

I jabbed a toothpick right into a well-browned piece of sausage that was bursting out of its pores and skin and oozing fats. Somewhere, a pig had given its life for us, I believed, as I gratefully popped the sausage into my mouth.

The pig must be fêted, so I used to be comfortable to learn a e book about its life and occasions.Pork: A Global History (2012) by Katharine M. Rogers is an element of a sequence known as ‘Edibles’, which explores the historical past of delicacies.

It was some 7,000 years in the past that individuals in Asia domesticated the sus scrofa, the Eurasian wild boar, she writes. “Since then, pigs have provided the most widely eaten meat in the world. Pork is the most versatile of meats — ranging from the rich, delicate succulence of a roast loin to the dry, salty assertiveness of ham and bacon.”

In India, too, the meat has had its share of hardcore followers. Food historian Okay.T. Achaya writes that Kshatriya rulers had been all the time a fan of pork. In the Mahabharata, King Yudhisthira fed 10,000 Brahmins with pork and venison, he tells us.

Getting lean

“The Romans (like the Chinese) considered pork the most wholesome and digestible of meats,” Rogers says. Pliny the Elder had raised a toast to the pig, stating that it supplied “almost fifty flavours, whereas all other meats have one each.” Achilles within the Iliad, Rogers provides, entertained his friends with the loin of a fat-laden hog. “He and Patroclus cut up the meat, spit the pieces, salt them, and roast them over the embers of an open fire; then they serve the meat with bread and wine.”

Lord Elmsworth could disagree, however Rogers believes that pigs are straightforward to maintain — largely as a result of they’re omnivorous. “They do not require extensive land for grazing like cows or sheep, but can forage on their own in woods or even in city streets, or be kept in small pens and live on human leavings. They can be fed whatever is cheap — sweet potatoes in New Guinea, corn (Zea mays) in the U.S. Midwest, coconuts in Polynesia.”

Now that pork occupies the excessive desk (the American Pork Board calls it “the other white meat”), American and European breeders are producing leaner pigs. On a median they’re 16% leaner and carry 27% much less fats that they did 20 years in the past, she says.

Uncle Sam feeds the military

I bear in mind an Italian chef as soon as telling me how the vastly prized black Iberian pig is sorted in Spain. It is fed contemporary acorns via the day however, sadly, has to run from one finish of a big discipline to the opposite for its feed. It makes the pig wholesome, and provides us lean meat (and far pleasure) subsequently.

The e book has some fascinating anecdotes. I learnt the genesis of the phrase, ‘bottom of the barrel’. There was a time, again within the 18th and nineteenth centuries, when giant items of pork had been stored submerged in a barrel of brine within the U.S. “This was the standard meat for poor to middle-class people and for the army,” she writes. Barrelled pork was graded in line with the pig elements. “Well-to-do working-class families got the better varieties, slaves the lowest grade.” And the prominence of barrel pork survives within the idiom ‘scraping the bottom of the barrel.’

In the War of 1812, a New York packer known as ‘Uncle Sam’ Wilson provided such large quantities of pork to American troopers “that he came to personify the entire government and was portrayed by cartoonists as a giant figure in a tall hat under a banner that read ‘Uncle Sam is feeding the Army.’”

I recall that when the pig enjoying Empress of Blandings within the BBC adaptation of Wodehouse’s Blandings Castle sequence died in 2013, the solid paid its sombre tribute to her. Timothy Spall, who performed the function of Lord Elmsworth, recollects an fascinating side of the medal-winning pig: “She was by far the most flatulent member of the cast and, believe me, she had a lot of competition.” For a pig, if that’s not a praise, what’s?

The author likes studying and writing about meals as a lot as he does cooking and consuming it. Well, virtually.

2021-09-24 11:24:14

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