Monday, October 4, 2010

Provvista Open House - Eric Bechard, Gabor Palotai

I saw Eric Bechard at Provvista's Open House.

Eric is infamous for a pig-related brawl. I recognized him instantly and teased him - saying that we didn't want any headbutts. Rufus Brown (of Johnston County Hams), standing next to me, didn't know what I was talking about (or what danger we were in), but that was OK.

Eric and I had an interesting and substantial discussion about local food. He and I respect each other, even though we take a different approach. E.g. he only uses stuff raised in his county. My company produces the best-tasting stuff we can, by any means necessary - the first step was importing the world's tastiest pigs to the western hemisphere. In particular, we don't process our pigs close to our major markets - we process where we get the highest quality processing.

When I explained to him that we are the local producers of Mangalitsa (even though we aren't in his county or even in his state) - because the next closest would be in Hungary or Spain, he didn't get irritated, curse me and headbutt me.

He said he understood and that he respects what we're doing. He agreed that there's no way we could sell all our stuff where we produce it - people are too broke. We both laughed about people buying feeder pigs from me, hauling them great distances and then fattening them a short while before marketing them as "local" in their own markets.

Also, it turns out he's bought meat from me before - back when he lived in Seattle. And he really liked it. I didn't remember that. Knowing that he wasn't going to be cool with buying feeder pigs in Iowa and fattening them in Oregon, I suggested that he buy some breeding stock, so he could have pigs farrowed and fattened (in his county) - so that they could make their way onto his menu, with compromising his principles.

I thought it was neat that Eric and I had mutual respect for each other.

Another high point of the day was meeting Gabor Palotai, a famous Hungarian winemaker who makes wine in Oregon. I was happy to feed him and his friends some Mangalitsa speck (in his language, "mangalica szalonna").

He immediately recongized not only the quality of the product, but that it is the same stuff you get in Central Europe (when you know the right guy). It is always nice to meet people who understand and appreciate what I do - so I gave him some of my last speck, for free.

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