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Taste This: Pork Products

By Mike Breen · May 25th, 2011 · Lost in the Supermarket
I don’t think Muslim extremists “hate us for our freedom,” as George W. liked to say. I think the hatred is directly related to our eating habits, specifically our gratuitous, flamboyant consumption of pig meat and organs. While some might react to the thought of putting any filthy pig meat in their mouth with the dry-heaving disgust most people experience when seeing a dog mindlessly eating its own poo, the crack-like hold pork products has on American consumers emboldens food manufacturers to continue making endless variations of pig products.

Lately I’ve become burned out on the gastric effects of a few too many pig-derived taste tests for this column. My stomach rumbles at the mere thought of my previous samplings of headcheese, hot souse and pickled pigs feet.

So when choosing something to try for this month’s column, I couldn’t stand the thought of eating, say, pickled rope bologna. I mentioned to our dining editor that it seemed like a high percentage of disgusting food is from pigs. But my ever-wise editor countered with an inarguable truth — pigs are also responsible for some of the most delicious food on the planet.

Pigs are dominant in all-American cuisine, for better and worse. It might be the only thing that could bring peace to the Middle East — maybe Jews and Muslims can bond over their joint disgust with America’s love affair with pig eating.

I decided to dedicate this month’s column to non-gross pig products.

I hit up a Kroger to prepare my gluttonous lunch tribute to good little piggies — a BLBTB (bacon, lettuce, bacon, tomato, Baconnaise) sandwich with a side of pork rinds.

I grabbed a box of Boar’s Head bacon. “Boxed bacon” might be the greatest food invention of our lifetime. Bacon scientifically altered to not require refrigeration and cook in about 20 seconds? The only thing better would be a hot-bacon-dispenser/alarm clock.

Bacon is quite trendy. Type “bacon” into Google and the search overlord’s auto-complete suggests you might enjoy bacon vodka, bacon chocolate (there’s an amazing sizzling chocolate bacon bar with sound effects provided by Pop Rocks), bacon-wrapped dates and bacon cologne.

Baconnaise is another modern wonder, but Kroger didn’t have it. Instead, I went with a powdered Bacon Ranch dip from J&D’s featuring the phrase “Everything Should Taste Like Bacon.” The preparation called for mayo, buttermilk and the mix, so I figured it was close enough.

I made some toasted wheat slices, slathered on the baco/mayo concoction, plus tomato, lettuce and six or so pieces of the bacon. The spread’s spicy kick overwhelmed everything, but my creation was fairly delicious.

Those who fear pork rinds should give them a shot. Grippo’s barbecue rinds are light, hollow and puffed, sort of like Bugles. For a moment I began to wonder if they were just dried pig skin. I waited until I was finished before I looked it up. I’m glad I did. While there are many variations of pork rinds (or cracklings), the ones bagged up for snacks are indeed dried (then fried) skin. I guess it could’ve been worse — at least they aren’t made from dried pig scrotums.

There’s only a light, almost ethereal tinge of pork taste. But later I experienced the same lingering tummy ache I had tasting pickled pig’s feet. Justifications religious types use for not eating meat include the assertion that pigs take longer to digest and don’t get fully broken down enough for the body to acquire any nutritional value. Having experienced multiple pig hangovers for this column, I’m starting to think they may have a point.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen@citybeat.com



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