The pig is world’s most useful animal for food. First domesticated in Asia Minor ca 7000 B.C, it soon became an important source of protein.
Every part of the pig is used in one form or another, including the bristles for fine brushes.
Hundreds of breeds have been created to suit natural conditions and human needs in many different regions.
Central and North Europeans are big consumers of pork, as are British, Americans, Canadians, and Chinese.
Today, pork is world’s most popular meat despite the religions prescribed abstinence of Muslims and Jews. Austrians eat, per capita, more pork than any other nation.
There are now more than 100 breeds, and scientists breed more to meet different requirement. In the 1970’s fatty pork fell out of fashion due to cholesterol concerns, and constant warnings of medical researchers.
Breeding lean pigs became an obsession, and now commercial pork is tasteless, dry, and chewy meat.
Consumers in search of gustatory pleasure started looking for fat old British, Chinese, and German breeds.
These “heirloom” pigs are fetching prices of 50 per cent more than “factory” produced meat fed with all kinds of medications to prevent diseases due to overcrowded shelter, and man-made, growth-inducing feed.
The ancestral pigs yielded fatty and succulent meat. Fat provides flavour ad juiciness. Lean meat is always dry, chewy, and tasteless.
Pork fat was used as a preservative, as well as food. Later, dairy farming in the west gave a boost to pig farming; they are being fattened on skimmed milk and whey.
Pigs are omnivorous, possess a very well developed sense of smell and have a short life cycle – the reason of their popularity in China with very limited land and a huge population to feed.
Truffle hunters used pigs to smell truffles under oak trees, but since the pigs love to eat them and are difficult to control, specially trained dogs now replace them.
To Chinese pork means “meat” and they utilize absolutely every part of the carcass. Their chefs have developed countless recipes. Unlike Europeans, Chinese cook pork, and never preserve it.
In Central and Northern European countries, pork is cooked, and preserved using a variety of techniques the most popular of which are curing and smoking.
Sausages, pies, pates, bacon, rillettes and many other specialties are commonly sold in butcher shops.
In England York-, Cumberland-, Bradenham-, Wiltshire-, Suffolk-hams are famous.
Irish-, Prag-, Parma-, Viriginia, Smithfield, Westphalian-, Bayonne, Jabugo-, and Pata Negra hams enjoy world fame amongst gourmets.
Grison, San Daniele, and German lachsschinken delight the palates of wealthy gourmets.
The feed determines the taste of pork. In Parma, pigs are fed with parsnips, in Virginia and Smithfield, peanuts, and in Spain acorn.
The noblest parts of the carcass, the hind legs and the loin make the best pork and ham.
Fatty food enjoyed in moderation from time to time causes no or very little harm. Fat-reduced meat or food is a ruse used by food manufacturers to sell product. When fat-reduced meat is consumed, people eat more to compensate for the lack of flavour.
Cigarette manufacturers discovered this phenomenon of compensation after introducing filtered, low tar, light cigarettes that smokers smoked more to compensate for the lacking inhalation of nicotine.
Best tasting pig breeds are:
Britain: Berkshire, Chester white, Oxford sandy black, Hereford, Yorkshire, Bradenham, British Lop
U S A American Yorkshire
Germany Swabian Hall
France Duroc, Lacombe, Dermantsi Pied
China Whizishan, Neijiang, Cantonese, Beijing black, Baxnyen, Mong Lai