Spain and Italy
If Spain and Italy can grow healthy, wildly delicious piggies, then why o why can't we? The New York Times today (April 10) has an op-ed piece trashing America's attempts to make healthier, free-range pork products. Briefly, James E. McWilliams, a history professor, professes that there is more salmonella in free-range pigs than in caged ones that are being cultivated in the US. He melodramatically asserts that there were (YIKES!) two cases of trichina. His solution? Ya ready for this, foodies and fellow travelers? "A pork free diet."
Now, I agree with McWilliams to a point. In America pork--especially ham--is not worth swallowing. Until I began to leave the country, I thought ham was that gross pink jellied mess that came in a can (My mother was not a cook. She opened and defrosted). When I began to travel through Italy, I thought I had died and gone to pig heaven. Oh my; yum. Recently, I made my first (of many, I hope) trip to Spain. Chorizo, Iberian ham, sausages to die for. Truly. Worth the risk of trichinosis. Worth smuggling back into the US. Not that I would do such a thing.
I don't know the details of why we can't import Spanish meats or pork products. Maybe someone out there can enlighten me. But Spain is a civilized country and the Spanish love their pork. They are not dying in the streets of salmonella poisoning or other parasitic diseases. At least not that I noticed. There, pigs and sheep roam freely and graze happily (see photo--I didn't know I'd be writing this or I would have taken a pig photo; I only have sheep, but they are really cute and made sublime cheese). They appear to live happy, healthy lives until they perform the ultimate sacrifice and are mmmm cooked or merely aged until they are perfect to plate.
In this country, I will indeed live with a relatively "pork free diet." Luckily, Italian pork is imported, you know.