Yesterday I was blabbing about Ossabaw hogs. Then when I went to bed last night, instead of counting sheep, I couldn’t stop thinking about this insane obsession chefs in America have with pigs all of the sudden.
Don’t get me wrong, I love pigs. I love to cook with them. And when I worked on a farm in Spain as a teenager, I loved hanging out with them. Swine have a tendency to be both intelligent, and affectionate. That is if they like you, if not you better be wearing a good pair of running shoes.
It’s just that pigs have been slopping around on this planet for thousands of years. But suddenly, as if pigs were just invented, pig parts, especially the non primal ones, are popping up on menus all over the country.
Truth is, I do know why pig is so popular.It’s a hog is a generous animal. A good cook can find something inavative to do with almost any part of the animal. Like this slow braised pork belly craze for instance, what most customers don’t realize is that pork belly is simply bacon before its been smoked.The belly is one of the most delicious and tender cuts of meat when braised and naturally people love it. But if you told them they were paying thirty bucks for some braised bacon, that might not do so well on the marketing end of things.
Another reason why pig is so popular, is because chefs get bored easily. A good chef is inherently the type of person who needs to keep learning. There is a life time of learning how to skillfully process pork. Making things like Serrano style ham, sausages,salumi products and so forth, are time intensive and take practice. Many chefs are now even curing and smoking their own bacon. Its not all that difficult to do, but it sure adds to a chefs level of pride. Plus its a great sales tool.
So I say keep on piggin out. Learn all you can, then move on to the next animal, mineral or vegetable that will come down the pike before you know it. I am now in my thirty fifth year of cooking and it still boggles me about how much I still have to learn. But that is what has made this journey of mine so wonderful and exciting. The more I push the envelope towards expanding my skill level the happier I am in my profession.