A question asked by barbers in the “old days” (i.e. when I was younger). It’s supposed to be a (euphemistic) code used by them, to avoid asking the male customer directly if he wanted to buy some condoms, as in those unenlightened times these weren’t anywhere as readily available as now — no vending machines, no give-aways at shows and street parades, even hotel desk offerings alongside the mints etc. etc. Nope, getting “protection” could be a long and sometimes embarrassing quest (esp. if the chemist assistant or Boots checkout person was female, as they usually were) for a young, single, man about town.
Anyway, enough of my (lack of any) sex problem and on with this post…
I asked before “How many food books does one person need? I mean really?” when looking at the rapidly growing section of our bookshelves devoted to (often weighty) tomes about meat and how to char it successfully and never really came up with an answer or any conclusion, except to say that one can never have too many books. After all as Erasmus said (and Val highlights on her blog):
“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”
So too it is with the increasing number of books about the history and husbandry of pigs; three more — these ones you can see above — have just (almost as if by magic) materialised this week on the doorstep.
The first one, by Mark Essig, “Lesser Beasts; a Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig” I’ve referenced last month when ranting about how shittily pigs have been treated (and still are) and some of the reasons behind this behaviour of ours. I’m looking forward to a deep dive into this — his writing is intense and should, as it did me, stop you in your tracks, making you think more about what you choose to eat and the responsibility you have towards the creature(s) providing this food.
The second is a scholarly work, the result of a huge amount of research by the author, Valerie Porter giving us “Pigs; a Handbook to the Breeds of the World“. I’ve started this one already; dense, heavily foot-noted and annotated and a mass of fascinating information that I’ve either not seen elsewhere or that she has managed to use to provide cortical insights into areas that I thought I already knew well. But realised now that I didn’t. And that’s great. I love researching.
Finally, third, is Peter Kaminsky’s “Pig Perfect: Encounters with Remarkable Swine and Some Great Ways to Cook Them“. I’d seen it mentioned whilst researching the Ossabaw last month and ordered it, sight unseen from a small book dealer, located somewhere deep in the American hinterland — so it took a while to arrive, anticipation spurred on by the fact that the Maveric Heritage ranch, current torch holders for the breed, said of it:
The Ossabaws received a boon after the publication of Peter Kaminsky’s wonderful book where he applauded the wonderful flavor of the Ossabaw and its rich Spanish history.
From Andalucia, via Georgia, North Carolina and others, Peter documents his search for the perfect pig and pork. The list of people happy to step up and write words of superlative praise in the blurb include, inter alia, Tom Keller, Michael Pollan, Annie Dillard and even a Kennedy. With those sort of chops to live up to, it’d better not let me down, that’s all I can say.
So, a weekend cloistered with these and also with some stunning looking Basque (first photo) and Galician (second shot) beef, courtesy Turner & George, to char on the barbecue (which will be fired up, come what may, even if the weather does look a little sucky).
I’ll keep you posted on how well both sets of meat and my cerebral appetites are sated. But to start with, I’m off to read now. I may be gone some time…