Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eat Them Piggies

Think I'll fry me up some bacon tomorrow morning and see if anyone in the house comes down with swine flu. It's not good to be too cynical about human intelligence, but it's all too easy when people avoid eating pork to avoid an airborne disease. What's next? Probably some Islamist doorknob will start claiming the flu is divine retribution for the sin of eating pork.

Bacon may not be the most healthful of foods, but as Garrison Keillor pointed out on the radio many years ago, the smell is so good that trucks should roam around neighborhoods spraying it, for the benefit of those who don't actually want to eat bacon. But there's a lot to be said for eating it, too.

The likes of Jimmy Dean and Tennessee Pride pork sausage offer more than satisfaction for the nose and tongue. Their preparation demands molding the patties, a hands-on experience with the tactile sensation of pork fat. Roll the meat, press it with you hands, place it in the pan. A thick residue clings to each finger, slick as a high-class con man.

And what would life be without ham and cheese sandwiches? I've had my share of mediocre ones, but one above average means warm thin meat, partly but not completely melted cheese, bread toasted just so. We can make such a creation even in our two-seater White-Westinghouse sandwich maker. The girls around here usually ask for a simple cheese sandwiches, but they don't know what they're missing.

But they know about pulled pork barbecue. Tasty pulled pork barbecue can be found in the North, such as at Uncle Bub's in Westmont, Ill., though my very best experiences with pork barbecue were in Memphis and Nashville. Tangy, aromatic satisfaction there on your bun.

Finally, though there's really no end to praise for pig flesh (such as paeans for pork chops), I conclude with memories of the pig knuckles at Gerst House, a German restaurant in Nashville. I only had them a few times, but I can close my eyes and recreate their heft and brown-sauced tenderness and distinct, robust flavor. Sauerkraut and beer complement. Sehr gut geschmeckt.

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