So that was fun.
This was not a “Raptured into Heaven” burger. The burger did not teach me Krav Maga, weatherproof my home, breeze through the final level of Diablo II, get me a new job, or straighten things out with my ex-girlfriend. Things are not about to get real all up in the dining room because I ate this sandwich.
Still, for a homemade burger? It was pretty amazing.
Drawback to being the Pork Guy?
Realizing that you are not the only Pork Guy.
Big, oinky thankyou to Nathan and Anna for presiding over a splendid evening of ritual pig worship. And for offering me the bite of brain – (texture of peanut butter, favor of pate)
And props to David and Laura for sauces, smoke, good humor, and organizational acumen.
One picture. The real hero:
It’s the beginning of summer. Things just… change. Pig meets smoke, drinks go taller, fruitier and icier. And new hats seek high ground somewhere between Sunburn and Big Pimpin.
This is my favorite time of year. It always has been. It’s as if a window creaks open, and for that fleeting moment in and around Memorial Day, life is malleable. There is a thick, pent-up energy to daily life, as everyone scrambles to redo their routines and make endless promises before the torpor of July envelops us. We extend invitations, buy extra glasses, make lists. It’s the one time of year where you can see a magazine article about building a hovercraft and literally sprint to the hardware store for a leaf blower. There is almost a dream-like quality to those couple of weeks, where it’s tough to avoid feeling intoxicated by possibility.
This year, I find myself ready.
So last Sunday I baked twenty-six loaves of ciabatta.
There is still flour everywhere. Please do not form any unnecessary visuals, but I really do mean everywhere.
From the “Why am I the way I am?” department…
I made a stir fry for lunch this morning. Noodles, veggies… some garlic and some heat. Not bad for a Wednesday morning at 7:30AM.
It is lunchtime. I am hungry. I did not bring a utensil.
I then discovered that there was not a utensil available in my entire building. It was either a spatula included in a pizza box some time ago, or use the smoothe machine and extrude the mix into my thermos.
(You guys know I work in an office complex within a large factory, right? And that I take the bus?” So just “going out” isn’t really an option)
Miraculously, a co worker drops by my office, and tells me that she is driving up to Kroger.
I explain my plight, and I blurt out, entirely without thinking “Hey, I brought this stir fry thingy into work today, and don’t have a fork or a spoon and there aren’t any in the kitchen, when you’re in the grocery store, can you buy me a head of boston lettuce or something so that I can maybe wrap the stir fry up in the leaves and eat it that way?”
“Um, Jeff…” she replied, incredulously.
“Yeah, I’m serious, can you!??!”
“Jeff why don’t I just… BRING YOU BACK A FORK.”
The gods are benevolent. And, evidently, a little glycemic.
Because there is really no reason that mortals are worthy of blue corn. It should not exist.
As soon as I walked in the barn door, a mason jug of apple-flavored moonshine was thrust into my hands, I heard power tools starting up, and there were two large porcine heads on the adjacent table.
Every Saturday needs to be like this past one.
So I eat meat. I am not naive about doing so. When you put aside the bacon-themed novelties and the excitement about being part of a pig butchering and the intoxicating prospect of obtaining forty or fifty pounds of fresh pork and the little grunts we make during a meal of pork belly tacos, it’s sobering to remind yourself what actually has to happen. It is also essential that we occasionally do so. This was my long overdue first time.
I watched the little piggy snuff film. It was captured on a smartphone, and it only seemed respectful to watch the animal die. I watched the pig clawing desperately backward into the corner of the pen, and I watched its stubby little legs flailing helplessly as the animal was grappled and forced to the ground. I felt its soul-chilling desperate final sound lingering in my diaphragm as the act played itself out.
I am at peace with what I saw. But it was not a something I can just un-see.
For reasons I can only begin to fathom, The Ohio Pork Producers Council invited me to participate in their annual “Taste of Elegance” chef’s competition in Columbus last week.
Seriously. Celebrity. Pork. Judge.
There were ninety minutes to go before guests arrived, and everything was running smoothly. The bread was out of the oven, and my pimenton mayonnaise had held its fussy emulsion. Cream had been whipped, spiked with Grand Marnier, and prepped for deployment atop mugs full of warm boozy goodness. Chocolate-Chip cookie dough had been scooped onto parchment and was ready for baking. I had a gallon of cocoa on a low simmer. Ganache for the chocolate martinis was gently holding over a double-boiler. A Tom Waits-ey playlist was already murmuring in the background. I had cleaned the bejeezus out of my apartment, sourced a hat, and was ready to don a blazer. My long-held fantasy of a winter-themed cocktail party for my birthday was about to come into being.
I am not a bright ray of morning sunshine.
Even after eight hours of sleep unfettered by evening caffeine or smoke-alarm chirping, the first hour is not pretty. Obviously this is the perfect time to introduce knives, boiling water, splattery hot grease, or electric grinding appliances into the mix. It’s not pretty.
Other key fact: My routine demands I adhere to the following mantra: “Out the door at 8:04.” With keys, wallet emptied of all cash (vending machines), fully charged celly, Coffee Mug, ziploc bag full of tea, separate ziplo bac full of ice, fruit, and extra pair of socks. And, most obviously, lunch. I’m “Still Alive at 8:05,” but if I push it much farther… consequences can be profound.