Saturday, December 03, 2011
Perhaps the perfect testimony to the transformation of modern pork is the "discovery" of the Pig Wing, a two-ounce piece of pork cut from the fibula of a ham shank. Once upon a time people presumably understood that a ham had a bone in it, one often used to flavor soups and stews once the ham was carved and eaten. But because consumers expressed a preference for the spiral-sliced and boneless hams that were marketed to them by the industry as more convenient meat, pork processors started removing the shank before processing, creating the possibility for the return of the repressed as a new product to market.
The food writer John T. Edge of, among other things, the Southern Foodways Alliance, wrote a great article on this development in his recent "United Tastes" column for The New York Times (here) on November 30th in the "Dining" section, where I learned that a big challenge has been coming up with a more pleasant sounding name for these ham shanks. Already in play are "pork hammers," "sluggers," squealers, and, of course, "Pig Wings." Look for them to perhaps be one of the breakthrough pork products in the next year or two.
I was particularly pleased with the illustration by Xaquín G.V. (above) that accompanied Edge's article, as it serves as a reminder that ham comes from pig, a point one wouldn't think would need to be made much anymore, but that given the incredible modern disconnection between our meat and its sources in living animals (a subject I discuss in both PIG and in my contribution to the special issue of Antennae on pigs, downloadable as a pdf here), perhaps this was indeed "news" to some folks.