Doggy Bag: Roasted Groupthink
The only white meat: 7x7's Jessica Battilana takes porchetta head on, probing the trend that's made the sliced pork as common a sandwich filling as honey-roasted turkey. Exagerrating. Still, from the Ferry Building to Dogpatch, you can't swing a cat in this town without smacking some mention of the Tuscan set piece, in some form or other. What's the deal, asks Battilana. Could it be the media, or is that chefs can't keep their eyes on their own menus, like slacker kids cheating on the SAT? Well, sure.
Isn't it that the last half decade has shown us just how hard it is to source truly pastured beef -- and in general, just how problematic beef is -- but that humane, small-scale, arguably local pork production has blossomed? Besides, the whole hog movement has made us all friendly to pork, and face it, we're all suckers for Tuscany, even if we've never painted our kitchens some godawful orange we called Terra Cotta. Truth is, the brine-cured roast pork loin of the late '90s has simply morphed into porchetta, thanks in part to a few influential sources like Judy Rodgers (we suspect the cooks at Kitchenette, for instance, even use the recipe from The Zuni Café Cookbook). Battilana's right: Chefs are sensitive to language, and menuspeak -- like jeans -- is subject to fashion. Whiskered is out, baby. Schmears of garlic, herbs, and anchovy are the flesh equivalent of the boyfriend jean.