|Head cheese made in loaf pan|
I feel like I've been through an initiation rite, and at first, I wasn't even sure into what I had been initiated. Charcutepalooza's Sensible Worlds, aka Brad Weiss, writes about The Fetishism of Charcuterie and the Meatiness Thereof and I think he pretty much tagged this fascination correctly. But having spent the last six months salting, brining, smoking, grinding, stuffing, and emulsifying, in other words, indulging this fetishism, why now did I feel "initiated"? After looking over the "binding" challenge Charcutepalooza Facebook photos available, and at my own photos, and thinking about it for several days, I now know it was the pig's head. I can't believe that I actually cooked the animal part that even Mrs. Wheelbarrow avoided.
And as I thought more about it, I realized it wasn't the head, per se, because, after all, I couldn't even see the nasty bits like the brains. No, it was the eyeballs. And they probably wouldn't have bothered me so much if I hadn't watched the video of Chef Chris Cosentino removing the meat from the pig's head in order to make porchetta di testa. During the video he says "...to be really careful not to puncture [the eye]," so the whole time my pig's head was cooking, I kept worrying about accidentally puncturing an eye. I had no idea what would happen and why I shouldn't do it. So when my stock began to reduce and I needed to turn the head a bit to keep it submerged, my stomach turned with it. And suddenly I felt very liminal, between one state and another, just as occurs in an initiation ritual.
Nothing about charcuterie had really bothered me so far, so buying and cooking a pig's head really made me feel like a member of this charcuterie community. Being a Charcutepaloozer was one thing, but working with a part of an animal in which you have to overcome hesitant thoughts, like dissolving brains and delicate eyes, really made me feel like I had entered a new stage of charcuterie. For me, it was the biggest challenge so far, but I did it. Wow! Does that feel good! What an initiation....
|Simmering the meat|
|Head cheese stock/gelatin|
|Head cheese sandwich|