Tuesday, October 02, 2007
PIG MEAT BLUES
'Pig Meat Blues' by WHISTLER & HIS JUG BAND
Violin, Sing The Blues For Me: African-American Fiddlers 1926-1949
'Is that pork, coz I'm not allowed to have pork?'
'No love, it's spam', the dinner lady replied as she slid a thickish pink rectangle on to my plate. On other occasions, the slab of meat would come wrapped in deep fried golden batter.
I rarely eat red meat now, though some folks consider pork white meat. Never had a taste for bacon, not even the illicit nibble of a smoky bacon flavoured potato crisp. The smell of Robert Allen's bag of scratchings on the school bus at eight in the morning put me off crispy pork for life.
But sometimes all you want is a sausage with the occasional big breakfast on a Sunday or some other holy day; a sausage that is just a sausage, and not a saucisse.
When I was a kid, we ate beef sausages for some years, nuancing our middle-class English knife-and-fork technique beyond early lessons on French toast. But when it was discovered that beef sausages contained some pork, they were banished from the freezer. The taste for the sausage didn't disappear, however. Years later the herbs and spices found in the continental sausages in American delis developed the sausage taste buds. The English banger now seemed a poor cousin. Kosher salami offered an halal compromise.
There are many Muslims who will happily imbibe alcohol but continue to draw the line at pig meat. A friend of mine says that he has pork every now and then to prove that he's been deprogrammed from Islam. Just other day I was watching the second season of Weeds on DVD the other day and a middle-aged member of the Nation of Islam decried the pig as a filthy animal as he sat at the dining table of some black folks who grew up eating the swine. We were fed that same doctrine. We read Charlotte's Web, thought Pigsy in Monkey was cool, but real pigs with their scary snouts were to be avoided. They wallowed in shit and were friends of salmonella.