Pork. How can something so flexible and delicious be the object of so much scorn? Forbidden by religions, ignored by beef snobs, shunned by people that should know better, an animal that yields things like bacon, sausage, ribs, chops, tenderloin, and pulled Boston round deserves to be venerated, not disrespected.
It’s got more flavor than over-rated chicken, can take a dry rub or marinade better than beef (allowing it to work in almost any flavor profile) and cooks up beautifully. So how did it become a culinary four letter word? Other than being a word with four letters, I mean.
They’re dirty animals. I hear this more than anything else: “swine is dirty, man.” But since no one actually eats the skin raw, it’s a pathetic excuse, most likely used by people that have no problem letting their cats walk around on their counter tops (after where those paws have been?) or letting their dogs lick them on the lips (after where that tongue has been?). I reject this argument with extreme predjudice.
It’s about religion. So the almighty, or someone playing him in print, decreed that the Jews and Muslims must forgo pure pork enjoyment (and they claim it’s a loving god?). But why? Whyyyyyyy?
In the case of the former, the Bible explains in Leviticus and Deuteronomy that eating the meat of animals that have cloven hooves and/or aren’t ruminants is forbidden. Of course, it also explains that the following things are punishable by death: not being a virgin on your wedding night (this goes for the ladies, men can feel free to do as they wish with the understanding that they’re probably damning any girls they bed to eternity down Satan-way), cursing a parent (tell my kids, please), and homosexuality (oh great – so now we have to give up fabulous parties and Mission Impossible films?), so you might want to take that little rule with a grain of salt (unless of course you’re these assholes, in which case you should feel free to take it with a grain of Drano).
Now being as this is the Bible, you’d think that rule would apply to Christians too. But, as with an awful lot of the rules in that particular book, this one was apparently rescinded. I’ve read it happened when St. Peter had a vision, after which God made clean the piggies. I assume the vision was of the bacon explosion, which even God knew was unstoppable.
As for the Muslims, I was unable to find a specific reason for banning pork in the Qur’an, and it appears to be just a random rule: “don’t eat pork products.” Of course, it’s called swine in the writing, and it’s phrased the way they thought God would talk. But here’s an interesting factioid: if Muslims are somehow forced to eat pork, they’re forgiven and still eligible to chill at Allah’s pad after they die (which would explain the runaway popularity of truth or dare in the Muslim countries of my imagination: “Truth or Dare?” “Um, Dare.” “O.K. – I dare you to eat pork. Or I’ll kill you” “Damn. Pass the bacon.”).
Pigs eat gross stuff. Well this has a little more sack than the first two reasons but it’s still weak. It goes like this: pigs eat like pigs, therefore they’re contaminated by gross things. Here’s the problem with that theory: pigs eat what they’re fed, like most livestock, and they’re usually not fed motor oil and medical waste. So stop worrying about it.
Pork chops are dry and gross. At least this has some actual history to explain it, and I know from whence this lie came: well-meaning parents, scared of trichinosis. In an effort to avoid poisoning their offspring, they cooked pork into slabs of protein devoid of flavor and subtlety, reminiscent of a chop-shaped hunk of bathroom-rated sheetrock. Mott’s was the big winner here, as huge quantities of apple sauce were sold (just ask Peter Brady) in an effort to help children get horribly dry chunks of ruined meat down. Memories of these dinners still haunt many an adult’s dreamscape.
Pork doesn’t taste good. Don’t be an idiot.
Here’s the thing though: the truth seems to stop mattering once people start believing the lies, and pork has been trying to climb out of its undeserved position at the bottom of the protein ladder for years. There was even that campaign launched a few years ago that positioned it as “the other white meat.”
While I’m glad the campaign was effective, it’s ridiculous. Pork is no more the other white meat than Cap’n Crunch is a part of a healthy breakfast. But both still rule.
Look, it’s time to drop the idiotic misdirection and silly rules. Let’s embrace the pig for exactly what it is: a red meat animal with enough class to pass on chewing its own barf, enough self-confidence to roll in the mud and not give a damn what you think, enough brains to find a place to poop besides where it eats (yes, I went there cow and chicken, I went there), and enough delicious variations to be a part of any meal, any day.