The Spanish Pig
Updated: Dec 6, 2020
Consuming #offal meats is one way to address #sustainability. Offal meats are rich in nutrients.
Our family recently purchased a Spanish pig — yes, we bought the whole thing! My husband, who is Italian, is entertaining the idea of making prosciutto. I have no objections since prosciutto is one of my most favorite foods in the world, and in my opinion, the highlight of Italian cuisine. Of course, the pig is Spanish, but I won't complain since #PataNegra, #JamónIbérico all sound like music to my ears.
On our visit to #RimmeyRdFarm, we noticed a little black pig in a wooden wagon getting ready to be transported to his next destination. I knew instantly that that was our Spanish pig — one of the two brothers on the property. When I went up for a closer look he slowly stepped back into the corner, perhaps out of fear. We continued with our visit, but before leaving the farm I stopped by again to pay the pig one more visit. As I peeked between the old wooden planks, the pig and I looked into each other's eyes, and I gasp in shock. I had never seen eyes so sad, dark, and lifeless on a living being. I really felt for the pig in that moment. I said "thank you!" to the pig, and as I was getting into my car he let out a short oink — hopefully, an acknowledgment of my thanks, and of forgiveness for what was to come.
As a child, the first time I saw whole, lifeless pigs at the supermarket with my mother, I was so traumatized that I decided to become a vegetarian. It only lasted for a month. We never consumed very much meat, but because Thai cuisine uses meat for flavoring, and seafood is one of our primary food sources, it was impossible to avoid. Understandably, my mom was afraid her growing teenager would disappear.
Since vegetarianism doesn't work for me, I have learned to deal with my empathy for animals like that little Spanish pig in different ways. In my kitchen, I consider it my responsibility to turn all the meats I work with into artistic and delicious cuisine. And I cook offal, which means I work with all parts of the meat as opposed to taking certain parts and throwing the rest away, as is common in American cuisine. Consuming offal, and turning it into delicious dishes that even my young daughter can enjoy, is one way I try to contribute to a more sustainable society and to show my respect for animals like that little Spanish pig. (Check out my Instagram, #Janejira_State_College, to see just how adventurous my palate actually is!)
Given the low demand in the US, offal is hard to find in the supermarket, and when it is available it can be pretty expensive. But many people don't realize that beyond environmental benefits, there are also health benefits to consuming a moderate amount of it, since offal meats are so rich in nutrients. For example, kidneys contain omega 3 fatty acids, and chicken feet are high in collagen, which is beneficial to joints and skin health. And though offal is expensive at the supermarket, if you live near a farm as we do in Central Pennsylvania, then you're fortunate to have a sustainable and inexpensive resource right in your backyard!
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