The bullet had to pierce the pig’s thick skull to stun it. The shot’s angle and position are everything. If you drew an X from each ear to the opposite eye, I was aiming for the small depression that lay in the middle.
Even at point-blank, getting in position to shoot a pig is a dance with an unwilling partner. I had the added trouble of working up the nerve to pull the trigger. You have to shoot the pig with it looking you in the eye.
After the pig murder, I produced a rather morbid multimedia package. In the past couple weeks, I took a little bit of time to put it back online, but, sadly it’s missing some parts, maybe forever, due to the death of a video-hosting service and Flash.
The story of the life, death and rebirth of a pig was about how we’d lost connection with our food and the skills that were once required to eat. Online news has gotten really sophisticated, but when I produced the story, a lot of news organizations were still trying to figure out how to shift from traditional media to the Internet (and many were scrambling as the financial crisis of 2008 was bludgeoning the news industry much as it is again today).
At the time I was writing about the loss of knowledge and skills, I was oddly unaware of how we were on the cusp of the lost of other knowledge and skills in the industry I was training for. So it goes.
It was designed for an internet that was early in the iPhone era, and we didn’t have great non-Flash solutions yet. The web design (Calibri?!) and technology (non-responsive?!) is somewhat antiquated. And in master-of-none form, it’s clear I’m neither a great photographer nor videographer. Nevertheless, the work, I think, holds up pretty well, and I’d invite you to explore The Death of a Pig: a Pig in Three Parts.
Since last fall, I’ve been getting our household coffee beans from CoffeeCSA.org which says it offers “the best of the crop while helping to fund next year’s harvest and strengthen small-scale family farms.”
We’ve been really happy with the quality.
It’s easy to loose perspective of how good it is since I drink their coffee every day. Yesterday, for the first time in months, I stopped by a Starbucks for a cup of coffee (I had a gift card).
The drip coffee, which I used to drink somewhat regularly, was amazingly bitter and burnt tasting. Barely palatable. It was a good reminder of how bad most mainstream coffee is, and how much better the coffee I’ve been getting lately is.
I like the idea of community-supported-agriculture programs. The idea is that consumers pay farmers up front in exchange for a cut of the farmer’s harvest. It’s supposed to reduce the risk local producers face by spreading it out among customers. Perfect growing weather? Eaters share in the plenty and abundance. Crappy growing season and deer infestation? There’s a lot less to go around.
Part of the fun is that it’s a way to be forced to figure out what to do with food I wouldn’t usually buy. Like two years ago I swear we got nothing but kohlrabi all summer. And that fucking kohlrabi — a vegetable that even the deer didn’t want — was the beginning and ending of my CSA participation.
But I’m going to try it again this year and here’s why: Salt Fork Farms has set up their CSA program differently. It requires an initial $200 buy-in, but instead of being loaded up with weird vegetables that I have no interest in cooking all summer long (or canning for the winter), I have the privilege of shopping at their farmers’ market stand with my $200-worth of punch cards (with a 10 percent discount). I can get a gazillion eggs and a few chickens. Or only greens in the spring. Or whatever else they’ve got.
I’m just happy that I won’t be forced to deal with kohlrabi again.
Cochon 555, a US tour that pairs five pigs with five cooks and pits the cooks against each other in a “friendly competition,” was in Des Moines again. Lincoln Cafe’s Matt Steigerwald (with a lot of help from his right-hand man Andy Schumacher) delivered a wonderful assortment of dishes and won again.
The competition, with a pair of chefs up from Kansas City and George Formaro of Django and Centro, was higher this year and, over all, the food was better. Deciding for whom to vote was a real struggle; a point separated my top three.
It’s interesting to see what themes get repeated. Last year, three of the five cooks served pulled pork and cole slaw on a buscuit. None of that this year, but we did get three pozole soups.
Favorites were Hal Jasa of Homage’s fried-pig-ear and quail-egg salad and his corned tongue. Cody Hogan of Lidia’s in Kansas City made my single favorite dish with a lovely pork ravioli. Steigerwald offered a great variety, but tops might have been the head cheese. Formaro went straight Mexican and the chorizo taco was lovely. And Howard Hanna of the River Club in Kansas City offered a passionately produced menu (including the only straight vegetables of the evening), but the best was his “Cuban.” By the time all was said and done, there was no way I could eat a single goddamn pork-based dessert.
Anyway, there was a lot of pork and wine and I had a great time. Seriously, you should make plans to attend next year. But it was also a crazy drive home in the driving rain and now I need sleep.