Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Notes From the Underground, rev. ed.

In a province like ours, where cretons, ragoût de pattes de cochon, fèves au lard, and oreilles de crisse are a way of life, one wouldn't exactly think you'd need a Pork Underground. After all, Quebec's not exactly Saudi Arabia. Occasionally, some Quebeckers have been known to haul in specialty pork products unavailable in la belle province from across the border, but not because there's some kind of taboo on pork or because pork is scarce in these here parts.

On the other hand, maybe it's precisely in a region as pork-obsessed (and therefore strangely undiscriminating about the quality of the pork being ingested a lot of the time) as Quebec that one would expect to find a cell of ultra-loyalists, a pocket of devotees committed to the idea of taking the love of pork (porcophilia?) to its logical extreme. Hence places like Au Pied de Cochon

p & p fig. a: this little piggy...

with its signature stuffed pied de cochon. Hence the Pork Underground.

Goodness knows why, but for some reason Michelle and I were invited to take part in a Pork Underground event a couple of weeks back. This being more than just an innocent pig-pickin', the invitation came with a set of conditions:

1. we were required to wear at least one pink garment, preferably one adorning one's torso
2. we were required to bring one pork icon, and it was indicated to us that we could be rather liberal in our interpretation of the term "pork icon"
3. we were required to bring one bottle of wine per person--to go along with the food, of course, but also, perhaps, to help induce the "French paradox"

Now, I'm a little short on pink garments. Not because I'm too gars-gars for pink, or something. I had a pink polo shirt that I either shrunk or outgrew (I prefer to think it was the first option) about a year ago, and a couple of years back I sold my limited-edition pink 1994 Palace Brothers t-shirt in a garage sale to some lucky customer. So I broke rule #1. Flagrantly. I wore a gray button-down shirt and claimed that I was "well-done." Michelle wore her trademark pink hoodie (naturally), so she was fine. Somehow we both got let in.

Michelle gave the pork icon a little thought and came up with the obvious answer: a pork-themed crossword puzzle. (?)

pork-themed crossword puzzle fig. b: Michelle's (largely) pork-themed crossword puzzle

[Be kind. This was her very first crossword puzzle. Why she chose to make one for this particular occasion, neither of us will ever know. One would have thought that, given her skill set, she might have concocted some kind of pork-related dessert or pastry (like a good old-fashioned pie with a good old-fashioned lard-based crust), but, no, it turns out she's a frustrated puzzle maker. Who knew?]

I, on the other hand, brought a line drawing of Tenderflake brand 100% pure lard that I'd turned into postcards. (??)

pure lard fig. c: 100% pure lard

We also brought along a hunk of Col. Newsom's country ham for good measure (and just in case my grey shirt and/or my grey postcards didn't fly with the management).

old no. 301 fig. d: old no. 301

We we had no problems whatsoever fulfilling the wine requirement.

So what does one do at a Pork Underground meeting? Well, pretty much exactly what you do at any other dinner party, with the addition of a round-table session where each and every member of the underground presents her/his "pork icon" to the assembly (these ranged from pork poems [2 of 'em!] to porcine salt & pepper shakers), as well as a much higher-than-average amount of spontaneous, fully improvised pork talk.

And, yes, as you might have guessed, the menu featured a great deal of pork, including such delicacies as:

a rustic pork terrine
a luscious cabbage soup with pork belly
a supremely succulent pork roast served with mashed potatoes

Having a hard time believing any of this? Check out the full coverage in last Friday's National Post here. Seriously.

Who knows how the National Post managed to infiltrate our cell,

the best in the business fig. e: the best in the biz

but there you have it.

Wish you had a Pork Underground in your hometown? Start your own. It's as easy as 1*-2**-3***.


* 1. quality pork products
** 2. quality pork recipes
*** 3. hard-core pork lovers (preferably ones with a bit of a sense of humor)

ps I--TY to BK for founding and hosting.
ps II--if you'd like the key to Michelle's crossword or if you'd like us to send you a "100% pure lard" postcard, drop us a line.


mollyk said...

"some lucky customer" indeed! you've forgotten that *i* was the purchaser (and remain the proud owner) of the famous pink palace brothers tee. i still consider it a damn good score.

aj kinik said...

hey, Mollyk,
I remember full well who was the purchaser and I'm glad it ended up in good hands--I don't think I would have sold it to just anyone