When I saw the news about the Israeli author who got a book deal for a pork cookbook, it was hard not to feel a small sense of sleight. I guess I got the offal wrong when I thought chicken parts were trayf (Hello -- chopped chicken liver? see what I get for writing my Shiksa Varnishkes post on only one cup of coffee.) But I am CERTAIN that pork is not kosher. Of this, I am sure. And he got a book deal.
But, I told myself, be patient. (After all, you're so good at that.) I tried. I smiled, I nodded, I politely declined when one editor didn't "get it."
I believe that the market will catch up to my and my quirky obsession with weird heritage breed pigs and those farmers that I love, working against all odds to save these old breeds from extirpation. When you have an obsession, it helps if others share it. It also helps if they seem like good, salt-of-the-earth types. I've met many and we all agree: we are on the right track and good things will come. The rest of the world will follow.
The UN declared 2010 to be the Year of Biodiversity. Actually, they declared it several years back but the world slid backwards and the little progress that had been made was lost. The 2010 effort (largely unnoticed by the media, I might add) was meant to re-energize the issue and spread the urgent message that the world is losing one of its more precious resources, the very diversity of life that not only feeds us, but nourishes the planet and sustains life.
So my focus of late has been another interest, at the intersection of ocean conservation and gourmet food. Sustainable seafood has been an interest for years and bringing that message to others, sharing resources and helping people adopt a science-based framework to make better choices... this became my focus. Pigs would have to wait.
Working in the wee hours on my 4th annual Teach a Man to Fish round up, I took a break to check email. And there it was:
New York Magazine - that obscure publication on the periphery of the zeitgeist - sharing Breeds Apart - How to tell your Mangalitsas from your Ossabaws, and six other heritage varieties. Surely, this is a sign. Surely the publishing world will notice. (And yes, if you're a publisher and you may call me Shirley.)
Here I am with American Guinea Hogs (not on the NY Mag list, also missing Mulefoot)
So I am now hopeful that I'll get a little more traction with "the pig book" and am, as well, moving forward with "the fish book." Here's a little amuse bouche for you on my favorite topics.
Pig Tales: a Love Story -
Pig Tales is a story of seduction. It’s about how America is falling in love with heritage pork. First it was Kurobuta, then the Mulefoot now it’s the Red Wattle and the Hungarian Mangalitsa that seem to dominate chefs’ and food writers’ attention. Taste memories for good old fashioned pork, our various pork-centric food traditions and our newest celebrities - the farmers - all play a part in the story. Pig Tales is a story of my love for pigs, for the farmers who also love them and are trying to save them from extinction, and about the chefs whose love for heritage products is bringing them back to our tables. This is about our love for flavorful food history and for underdogs.
The Last Fishermen -
Who are the people whose livelihood is disappearing with the vanishing wild fish?
The Last Fishermen will introduce a seafood-savvy public to the fishermen who supply them with wallet-card approved seafood. As the farm-to-table message permeates the food culture, the same links are being explored in the ocean-to-table chain. From community-supported fisheries to fishing cooperatives, new models are emerging in an attempt to salvage what may be a disappearing lifestyle.
The Last Fishermen will explore sustainable seafood issues - from the vantage point of the other end of the pole: the fishermen holding it.