Of all the protein-rich foods that many of us enjoy, nothing strikes quite the chord of culinary enthusiasm than the savory, succulent, other-white-meat favorite: Pork. Today, we’ll take a look at some little-known facts about this porcine powerhouse of restaurant and home kitchens the world over, and share some tasty recipes from the US and across the globe.
Did you know? Some lesser-known facts about pork.
- Pork is the world’s most popular meat: each year, we consume 85 billion tons—a third of which is bacon.
- Pork is rich in B-vitamins such as B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B6, B12 and B3 (Niacin).
- The record for the longest sausage ever made is 36.7 miles in length.
- Pigs are some of the world’s oldest livestock. They’ve been domesticated since 5000 BC!
- The average person will eat 28 pigs over their lifetime.
- There are more than 180 species of pigs, and you can find them on every continent except Antarctica.
- Scientists believe that pigs are one of the most intelligent animals, ranking close behind apes and dolphins.
- Pigs do not sweat, and some pale pigs are at risk for sunburn, so they roll in mud to keep themselves cool.
What does BBQ mean to you?
There are endless ways to enjoy pork. One popular American way that’s as varied as the people who enjoy it is BBQ pork. Here’s a run-down of the low-and-slow preparations different regions of America love:
Memphis: Take a plate of ribs or pulled pork that have been been dry-rubbed with spices like garlic and paprika and slow-cooked in a pit and dress with a tangy, tomato-based sauce. Southern sides like baked beans cole slaw, and dill pickles complete the meal.
South Carolina: Ham or pork butt get a distinctively sweet-tart saucing with the state’s mustard-based, vinegar-and-brown-sugar flavor signature. Another South Carolina BBQ staple is Barbecue Hash, a side item served over rice which one Serious Eats reviewer described as: “The stewed mixture of pork, potato, tomato, onions and liver tasted of pure comfort, with a gritty/silky texture that some would call slop. Heavenly, stuff-your-face-until-you-are-precisely-what-you-eat slop.“
East Texas: Home of the classic BBQ sandwich, eastern Texans prefer their BBQ a mix of chopped pork and beef, often served on a white bun with a serious dose of hot sauce. Enjoy the pit-smoked indulgence like a true cowboy with a Texas craft beer or American whiskey along with a messy Frito pie.
Pork Around the World
While Americans may feel they have the market cornered on delicious pork recipes, there are many food enthusiasts in other countries that would insist otherwise!
The gold-standard of pork curing goes to the culinary masters in Parma, Italy—home of the international treasure, Prosciutto di Parma. The crown on the label says it all: Parma is pork royalty. Check out this video from the producers of this celebrated ham to learn what goes into making it so special (hint: it’s nothing artificial—just sea salt, air, and time!).
Many Asian countries boast delicious, complex, flavorful preparations of pork as well. One mouth-watering recipe is Thịt Nướng, or Vietnamese Grilled Pork. This thinly sliced, grilled pork is packed with flavor thanks to a savory marinade of aromatic ingredients like shallots, lemongrass, fish sauce, garlic, sesame oil, black pepper, and honey.
As the largest producer of pork in the world, China also has some knock-out pork dishes enjoyed around the world, such as pork lo mein and char siu—Chinese barbecue pork. Check out this easy recipe for spicy pork tenderloin brushed with sesame oil, rice vinegar, and chili-garlic sauce.
And, of course, for something a little weird…
Speaking of pigs, there’s a weird and wonderful tourist excursion that you’ve got to try if you’re vacationing in the Bahamas. Major Big Cay is an island uninhabited by humans but the home to tourist-friendly, swimming pigs. Check out this video to see this odd and adorable phenomenon of happy, island-dwelling swine in action.
Happy Foodie Friday!
(Sources: Bodnant Welsh Food, Serious Eats, Thrillist, Parma)