23 December 2011

Day 74: That'll Do, Pig

I don't know what it is about the faces of mammals, as opposed to fish or lobsters, that makes butchering such a visceral experience. Certainly part of it is that their faces are much easier to anthropomorphize than, say, the cartoonishly flattened look of a flatfish. Mouth, nose, ears, even the body of a four-legged animal isn't that far, anatomically, from us.

For me, it was the eyes of our wee little piggy, stuck wide open, that made my stomach squirm as my chef-instructor's saw came down to behead him, briefly making me want to break out into a soulful rendition of Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" while the camera slowly pushes in on Babe's winsome, albeit dead, eyes.

The momentary uneasiness isn't nearly enough to shift my moral compass on the issue of stuffing my face with delicious animal protein. But I feel like I now know what all the farm-to-table, squeak-to-squiggle chefs are talking about when they wax poetic about respecting ingredients. I will certainly try not to let any more delicious cheeks go to waste going forward. In other words, sisig party!

Once the head was off, pig fabrication quickly shifted into pork lover's magic food porn time as one cut after another became visible. Count a few ribs in from the rear (to keep the tenderloins intact) and slice through the spine. Legs off through the joints. Then separate the tenderloins, sirloins, and ribs.

Just like that, I was staring at kalua pork, baby back ribs, St. Louis ribs, spare ribs, pork belly, pork chops, and ham. Really, how can you say no to any of that?

And then we chopped the head in half to expose the brain.



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