Pork, the Other White Meat

Here’s a short piece I wrote for a local English-language magazine for foreign residents (guiris). The use of Spanish and Catalan mixed in the text is one of their specialties.

Don’t Dig on the Swine? Think Twice!

If in Spain Pork is King, in Catalonia it’s nothing short of an Imperial Dynasty. Yeah, sure, there are other meats out there, but they ain’t pork. Chicken, yawn; veal, ho-hum; lamb, rabbit, beaver… whatever. The demographics speak for themselves: there are more pigs in Catalonia than people, counting only the taxonomically porcine specimens. The country is literally awash in purines, the politically-correct term for pigshit, polluting water reserves in many rural areas.

But, on the bright side, we have jamón, butifarra, chorizo, fuet, longaniza, morcilla, sobrasada, lomo and, of course, candied pig jowls. Without the shining presence of “the other white meat”, Catalan food would be as exciting as macrobiotics for toothless diabetics, and pa amb tomaquet wouldn’t even bother to exist. So what’s a spot of pigshit compared to a Ferra Adriá? How about enough pigshit to wash El Bulli halfway to Ibiza?

Tastiness aside, pork is a statement, a defining characteristic, a way of life. Five hundred years ago, not eating pork was considered politically incorrect and was liable to get one burned at the stake, the medieval version of the pollo a l’ast machine. Of course, no-one remembers all that ancient history about pork-eaters burning non-pork-eaters nowadays, even though pork still don’t get no respect in many parts of the world, most of which just happen to be sitting on major oil reserves…. Forgotten is also the unflattering portrayal made by avowed anti-porcine author George Orwell in Animal Farm, written after his stint in Spain to fight the fascist uprising of 1936. So, like, could you heap a chistorra on top of my morcilla con beicon, por favor? I feel my blood pork level dropping to perilous lows…

While eating pork is no longer considered a life or death affair, every guiri should know that refusal to dig on the swine (comer del porco morto) will be met with mistrust, hostility, social ostracism and high rents. That’s why I recommend my vegetarian guiri friends to shelve their childish fears of violent death karma and eat that goddamn jabugo that cost me a snout and a trotter. A pig died so I could offer you these dessicated shreds of flesh! Show some respect!

Among the basic Spanish phrases I teach new arrivals, aside from the standards (“¿cuánto el gramo?”, “no me jodas, Rafa”, “me meo que te cagas”, etc), I now include the all-time family favorite: “¡qué rico está el chancho!”, and leave it at that. Just wait until I figure out how to translate “I do not like Green Eggs and Ham, Sam-I-Am”. ¡Hasta la vista, guiri!

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