Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Holiday Pig (Well, Wild Boar) Attack

According to the BBC (here), a 198 pound wild boar somehow got into a clothing shop in the French city of Poitiers, charging at customers and police before being taken out. Fifteen people were evacuated from the store, which was closed for two hours. While I'm sure there are better accounts in French, which I don't read, the BBC piece notes that for some reason wild boars were being relocated in the area by forestry workers. I, of course, thought of wild hogs yesterday on the drive to Hilton Head for the holidays, as we crossed the Ocmulgee River and traversed good wild hog territory.

Good luck with your own last minute holiday shopping, everybody...

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

The $800 Holiday Ham

The Newport News (Virginia) Daily Press ran an excellent article (here) the other day about the arrival of Jamon Iberico in time for Christmas. After years of bureaucratic wrangling, Don Harris, proprietor of LaTienda, a Spanish food importer, managed to finally get USDA regulators to sign off on the importation of these legendary hams made from free-range, black-footed Iberico hogs that are fattened on acorns.

I first heard about these pigs (and hams) in Peter Kaminsky's book Pig Perfect (2005). At $87 per pound, I guess I won't be sampling any Jamon Iberico anytime soon, although Harris notes that they are hoping to eventually sell packaged slices of this ham for regular folks. According to the article. about 100 people have put down deposits on these hams, with 300 on the list for an even better version, the "Jamon Iberico de Bellota," which should arrive next year and sell for $1500 each.

To promote Spanish artisanal pork, Harris' company has set up a website,, which is "dedicated to the fine art of the ham." The photo above is by Philippe Desmazes, AFP/Getty Images. The caption reads "A man checks Iberian hams hanging in a drying room at the Embutidos y Jamones Fermin farm in La Alberca near Salamanca. The Spanish Jamon Iberico (Iberian ham) is the name which is given exclusively to hams from the Iberian pig breed. The secret of the tase of Iberian ham is down to the pigs diet of acorns which they live on all year round."

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

DIY Bacon, British-Style

Yesterday the Guardian featured an article by Tim Hayward (pictured above) about his efforts to cure his own bacon at home. The essay, perfect for do-it-yourself-ers, begins by noting an increase in the amount of bacon being eaten by Brits, something attributed to the emergence of "premium and organic bacon." Noting that "my granny salted pork in a council house," Hayward figures "If she could do it... then so could I." After a week of carefully tending to two kilos of boned loin from an organic Tamworth, Hayward seemed delighted with the results. It does, however, seem like a bit of work...

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Neglect of a Pet Pig in Minnesota

According to a report on L.A.'s (here), a woman in Minnesota named Michelle Schmitz is pursuing charges against another women with whom she entrusted her pot-bellied pig named Alaina Templeton (left). Apparently while in the other woman's care the pig grew from 50 pounds to 150 pounds. I'm not sure why one would expect a pig not to grow, but apparently that isn't really the issue here, for the pig-sitter left the pig's collar on, which wound up embedded in its neck, requiring surgical removal. The pet-sitter is facing a charge of animal neglect and a claim from Schmitz for the resulting $1,000 veterinary bill.

Speaking of neglect, as hopefully someone has noticed, I've fallen quite a bit behind on this blog in the last couple of weeks. Things have been a bit crazy, suffice to say. I'll try to make some progress here now that I'm finally approaching the end of the semester. Just in time for the holidays and the joys (believe it or not) of sporadic internet access. More soon, then...

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