An occasional series of short pieces in praise of sus scrofa domesticus. The humble pig.
A song to the swine, that most delicious and versatile of beasts.
Ironically, my personal meaty nirvana isn’t porky- that honour probably goes to a kilo of bone-in ribeye of beef shared with a best friend, with lashings of seductively wobbly béarnaise and duck-fat chips. And if you can arrange for that to come seared fresh from the bars of a Hawksmoor flame grill, then that’d be just dandy. Mutton has its place- perhaps finding its apogee in dense, thick, slow-cooked curries with bits of bone marrow to thicken the sauce to glossy, luxurious depth. Duck takes some beating too, its leg meat shredded into fragile pancakes or its breasts served a bashful pink.
But none of these can dislodge the not-so-humble swine from its overall rightful place at the top of this carnivore’s pyramid, so these posts will attempt to highlight one particular manifestation of piggy splendour.
They are not marked out of 10; there is no star rating. They are in no particular order, though I do hold one incarnation to be first among equals. They may be things we cook at home, in restaurants and all points in between.
On we go, with…Bacon.
Ah. Bacon. Siren. Temptress.
An obvious starter, maybe: it’s been said that the smell of rashers cooking has tempted many a vegetarian back to the fold- a ‘gateway drug’ as it were. Why is the smell so evocative? You might theorise the high fat-to-protein content whispers sweet nothings to our DNA, that it speaks to the evolutionary need for energy value in food intake.
And who can blame them.
Fat. Salt. Smoke. Well, that’s three of your major food groups covered…
Good bacon- not the flaccid, gormless excuse for bacon which leaches milky tears for its own wretchedness into the pan as you fry, or which weeps on the grill- is a thing of wonder. It has to be cut by your local butcher, not prised from some sweaty barcoded plastic. If I’m in the mood for a treat I get some from Illtyd Llyr Dunsford-the award-winning Charcutier Ltd- and savour thick-cut back bacon rashers whose fat crisps into something approaching pork crackling.
Truly wonderful. A free-range fried egg on top, all lovingly laid between two thickish slices of bread (and I don’t know why, but it always has to be white, and not the posh stuff either. None of your artisan malarkey here) with just the right amount of ‘give’. Mug of Yorkshire tea strong enough to raise the Titanic.
Breakfast of champions, that. Sauces? Up to mood, but when I do, I tend to go brown for bacon. I’d rather let that golden ooze of the egg do its thing though. Double up for a BEEB (bacon, egg, egg, bacon again)? Oh go on then. Pop a cheeky sausage in there too? Twice the pork? You’re twisting my arm, but…
You may prefer it as waffer-thin slices of pancetta with sweet, fat, juicy, caramelised scallops…
…or in a proper full English breakfast. And no, beans do not feature…
…or as salty lardons in a black pudding and poached egg salad (there’s that double-pork windfall)…
…or criss-crossing a medium-rare quarter pounder inside a brioche bun…
..or in a flatbread with that peculiarly Welsh combination of cockles and laver bread, like this little beauty from The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company…
…or with its soulmates egg and cheese in a luxuriant spaghetti carbonara…
…you can even sprinkle bits of it on to your cauliflower cheese, if that’s what floats your boat…
or… or… or…
You can fill in your own gaps here, can’t you?
If you’re in the mood, you can even make Kevin Bacon. Out of bacon.
So that’s what they mean by a ham actor…
In Praise of Pork, Part II- ‘Pinchos Morunos’ is here:
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.