Some Pig from the Past

August 9, 2015


This issue of Gourmet, January 1951, has lost its cover.  Which is too bad; according to the copy inside, the illustration was a pig's head in honor of the magazine's tenth anniversary.  (The first cover also sported a pig's head.) But what's left is rich indeed. A great article by Louis Diat about the Ritz.  Some fine Food Flashes from Clementine Paddleford.  An article about halibut by the great Robert P. Tristram Coffin.  Samuel Chamberlin on Franche Comte (along with a recipe for cherry soup that I'll print tomorrow).

Then there is this rather remarkable article that tells you how to cook the pig's head – along with every other part of the pig. Herewith, a small sampling. Personally, I find La Pompadour's recipe really does make me want to eat my heart out. 












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  • We could have used this years back. I went out of town when my kids were little and left them home with their dad. Normally, he never cooked. But he decided to have friends over for dinner.
    Our eldest daughter came home from school, opened the refrigerator, and slammed it shut. On the top shelf sat a whole pig’s head. To this day, she insists it was the most traumatic moment of her childhood.
    Meanwhile, I was visiting my parents, when the phone rang. My father answered, talked briefly, then handed it to me, a little disgusted. “Your husband wants to talk to you. He wants to know what pan to use for a pig’s head.”
    Our friends, our daughter, my father, and both of us still tell the story–each with some personal bias.

  • Ruth Reichl says:

    Giovanna, I love that story!
    What I want to know is this: which pan did you tell him to use?
    And by the way – great to hear from you.

  • Ruth, the reason the head was whole, on a plate in our refrigerator, is because the butcher refused to cut it for my husband. “The teeth ruin our saws.” (Another husband might have thought that suggested the home tools wouldn’t be up to the job, but mine just smiled and asked for it to be wrapped).
    The story quickly devolved from there–we had (and still don’t!) no pan that would fit a pig’s head. I believe a sledge hammer and our driveway were involved in the breaking apart. So come to think of it, a few neighbors probably also still tell the story. But the pig head did get cooked and served to our friends. And we are still friends–maybe because of stories like these, rather than in spite of the. So I guess all’s well!