Pork, Glorious Pork
COOKING WITH CHARACTER - Dr. Nestor Alonso ll () - April 19, 2011 - 12:00am

Since ancient times, man has hunted the pig for food. Such practice continued until one day, a rather bright fellow captured a female pig, the male pig followed and the humankind now had a rather steady supply of meat. This had occurred in the old world and a similar domestication happened in China.

Pig breeding became a science and the pig evolved to new shape and sizes based on current demands. In the 50s, the Philippine pig was a rather huge animal with plenty of fat underneath the skin, very prolific and had excellent mothering qualities. The need then was cooking oil and a fat pig yields sufficient supply.

Two decades later, as a graduate of Veterinary Medicine, your favourite food columnist was involved with swine breeding and production and the pig took a new shape because oil extraction from plant sources became efficient and the market demand was lean meat.

The pig grew faster and feed conversion efficiency improved. At about this time, I became fascinated with cooking and I became a student of Chinese cuisine.

Chinese cooking involves more than knowing how to use ingredients; it also require on how to select them. Freshness is the most important criterion and freshness is something on which they refuse to compromise. No meat “survives the freezing process completely unchanged.” It is though that refrigeration is a kind of compromise “and, as such, it must lead to some loss of quality.” There is an overwhelming devotion of the Chinese to pork and six out of 10 dishes its cuisine uses pork. In fact the Chinese character for home is made from the radical for roof over the character for pig (Chinese Cooking, Hong Kong and China Gas Company).

And my beloved readers had once in their lives gone home to their hometowns and had a whole pig slaughtered for family consumption. Perhaps you have selected a slice of pork belly or a rack of pork ribs of the fresh meat, seasoned only with salt and cooked over charcoal (bakhaw was used) and immediately consumed.

The liver, spleen, heart and intestines (ginabut) was deep fried in pork fat and served with ice cold beer. The whole family was waiting in anticipation for the lechon, which is the freshly slaughtered piglet slowly cooking to perfection to become the centrepiece of the celebration. How can any, excuse me, frozen meat beat that!

Times have changed however and now people shop for the convenience in supermarkets and there is now a wide acceptance of frozen meat. Import restrictions have been lifted because of Philippine commitments to the World Trade Organization. Foreign counties which have excess supply of pork like Canada and the United States of America have filled the gap for quality but reasonably priced meats.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines sent invitations to promote the industry with the theme “Canada Pork at Cafe Marco.” The Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Christopher Thornley, and Honorary Consul of Canada Robert Lee came personally to welcome all guests for a taste of Canadian cuisine.

Several pork dishes were served like the huge Roast Pork Ham, Jerk Roast Pork, Pork Saltimbocca and Pork Tapa Other products from Canada were also available like Canadian oysters and salmon (Canadian Poached Salmon). We also tried fine Canadian wines like the Quatrain 2006 from the Mission Hill Family Estate and the Eagle Tree Muscat 2007 from the Jost Vineyards.

Several lucky guests were invited for another round of these fine Canadian produce the next night but that is another story.

CAFE MARCO CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA CANADA PORK CANADIAN CANADIAN AMBASSADOR CANADIAN POACHED SALMON CANADIAN TRADE COMMISSIONER SERVICE AND THE CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE PHILIPPINES CHINESE COOKING CHRISTOPHER THORNLEY PIG PORK
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