Man cooks pig

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“Eclectician” at Off the Bone is doing the Carnival of Modern Man thing with a level of culinary dedication that is, well, manly. While good friends may recall a certain project that involved “ten pounds of salsa,” this guy cooked 15 pounds of pork for his wedding.

I’m making pork confit, then layering it with duck livers for terrine. Making confit takes 2 days if you’re rendering the fat yourself, the terrine takes another. And yes, doing this makes me feel manly.

It’s not merely the huge piles of meat and fat, nor even the sweetly animal smell that permeates my Brooklyn shoebox after rendering three gallons of lard. It’s that my fiancée thinks I’m crazy for doing this. It’s that I’m doing this at home, in a kitchen far too small for a project this size. It’s the sentiment of “damnit, I will feed the people who come to my wedding, with my own two hands.” But on some level, I’m doing it because I woke up one morning and said to myself, “I’m making terrines for the wedding,” and the thought made something in me growl contentedly. And it is, sad to say, at least partly the joy of being stupid that’s made this project so much fun.

Cooking seems to be one of those activities whose polarity seems to flip unpredictably between the masculine and the feminine. Perhaps it’s only when it’s a “mother feeding her family” scenario is it truly feminine, or perhaps it’s just sugar shock from the Era of Betty Crocker that makes me think that. Whatever gender we give it, I do know that there’s nothing more powerful than that primal maternal feeding instinct. Eclectician seems to hit on something I might label “Atlas Shrugged in the Kitchen”–the hypermasculine theater of culinary triumphalism that says “I must cook this pig today!” Or perhaps more aptly, “me fight pig me win.” I’m thrilled that this impulse has been translated, through the miracle of the democratization of haute cuisine, into “je dois faire les terrine pour le mariage.

Whatever the language, that’s butch. And as far as I’m concerned, hot. Mrs. Eclectrician is a lucky gal–if I’m allowed to make such comments at the Carnival.

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