Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hong Kong Feedback, Local Food, Breed Preservation

Neck photo by Chef It Yourself.

Feedback is coming in from Hong Kong about our Mangalitsa pork.

So far, they think the neck* is better than the loin.

Pretty much all Mangalitsa fans/experts I know agree that the neck is more marbled, juicy, flavorful and tasty than the loin. They all prefer the neck.

The Hong Kong guys have already had their Mangalitsa neck get "stolen": the sous chefs at a restaurant cooked and ate the cooked samples before the Exec chef could eat any. They simply could not resist the Mangalitsa once they started eating it.

Mangalitsa Belly

I've heard similar stories in the USA. E.g. guests sneaking into the kitchen to eat up the Mangalitsa belly leftovers and hiding the evidence - the bones - in the garbage.

Asians eat a lot of pork belly. Most of it is lousy, because most farms don't optimize fat quality. Ours tastes incredible in comparison.

It has become clear to me that if we are going to save the Swallow-Belly Mangalitsa breed, we either need Americans to buy lots of Mangalitsa fatty cuts - e.g. bellies, jowls and fatback - or we need to export the stuff.

I wish Americans would recognize how tasty the bellies are. But that's not likely to happen. Hence, in a few years, I bet a huge fraction of Mangalitsa bellies will go to Asia.

I wish there was a lot of demand where we raise the pigs and where we kill them. Given that we produce some of the best-tasting food in the world, there isn't demand near the place of production. Just like Alaskan salmon or Maine lobsters, the stuff goes to where people have the desire and money to eat them.

In order to save the Swallow-Belly Mangalitsa breed, we need to be able to sell the parts to as many people as possible - like the Hungarians. If for some reason we were restricted to selling all our pork within a few miles of where it is produced, or even within the states where we produce it, we'd have to exit the business - at which point the Swallow-Belly Mangalitsa breed would probably go extinct.

Similarly, if it wasn't possible to export Maine lobster from Maine, or Alaskan salmon from Alaska, a bunch of it would go to waste. The lobster industry and the Alaskan salmon industry would necessarily shrink.

So thank goodness for modern logisistics.

If you care about the genetic diversity of domesticated animals, you should be for things like reducing trade barriers, reducing bureaucracy and reducing the cost of moving food around - because those are the things that make it possible for people to make money raising specialty crops like Swallow-Belly Mangalitsa pigs.

* The next time I'm next to a Mangalitsa pig, inspired by the skit "Wu-Tang Financial" (NSFW), I'm going to tell it:
This ain't "Charlotte's Web", piggy. This is real effin' life! Protect your neck!


Anonymous said...

where can a home cook order neck?

Heath said...

I just copied this from the page -- upper right corner.

Our Mangalitsa is available via DeBragga and Spitler. They will ship you our product! Call 212-924-1311 if you don't see what you want on their website.

Our Mangalitsa is available via Foods in Season! Email for more info; you'll need to order a sizable amount of product in order for them to sell to you.

In Seattle and San Francisco, Heath Putnam Farms distributes its own product. Please look here for purchasing information.