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johnny dollar's vault

retro pop culture and various local observations and ramblings.

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Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
johnny dollar's vault resides in the basement of stately dollar maisonTM, amongst the wine cellar, tiki bar, and finicky electrical panel. from time to time i will unearth various artifacts from either there or from the random crevices of my mind.

please visit the new and improved pig cookin' post!

NOTE: this blog will NOT deal with any recent pop culture (i.e. since about 1990) or topical issues, so if you're looking for discussion about britney baracko jacko flacco, look elsewhere, lol

Friday, December 09, 2005

when pigs fry

a fellow fraternal order member of mine (and that's not a frat, you greeks) recently wrote a gem of a news item entitled "gin - the other white drink" , which got me all thinking about the other white meat, pork. mmm... pork...

which got me to thinking about all the variations of pork i've enjoyed in my lifetime, particularly in the form of roasted pig. yep, the whole thing, piggy on the barbie, mate.


if you don't want to read about tasty piggies, click here

okay, now that we've gotten that taken care of...

the first pig i had that wasn't in the form of ham or spam or poke-chops or pig in a blanket or snausges was "spanferkel" in munich's hofbrauhaus. spanferkel is roasted suckling pig in beer sauce. yes, it does look like a little roasted baby. once you get past that, dang is that some yummy piggie! it verged on the taste of pork chops, a little more mealy than hammy. the fact that i could wash it down with a liter mug of hofbrauhaus beer at the age of 14 made it pretty cool at the time. but talk about some primal germanic food: pig cooked in beer! all that was needed was the accompaniment of a visigoth holding a torch singing "rock you like a hurricane" to make it more deutsch. subtotal: spanferkel very yummy, beery, germany-y.

the second roasty pig was again in germany (not by design, mind you), but this was nine years later when visiting EuroLand on the eurailpass/hostel joint. i actually have some third cousins-uncles-cousins-once removed relatives there, and it was a free ride for a couple days, so we stayed with them. one set of the aforementioned distant relatives took my former roommate and i to a bucolic southern german resturant in an old castle/nunnery/smurf house place named "rhonhauschen" and smack dab on the menu was roast boar! daaammmmnnn, i needed me some roast boar somthing awful. it didn't hurt that asterix the gaul used to eat roast boar after kicking roman butt. so we got us some of that action. it was a slurpy yummy greasy hunka hunka elvislike porcine, complete with an exterior shell that was somewhat between pork rinds and a football. but it was totally what you would expect boar to taste like, kinda funky and piggy but really good. my friend and i ended up getting trichonosis the next day and paying for the roast boar for about three days. subtotal: roast boar yummy, made tummy ouchie, been there, done that.

a wunderbar place for ze food poisoning!

hit the little double triangle button on the remote, and that takes us to late 1990's when i used to throw very expensive parties at my house so guys that weren't me could meet girls. well, that was how it worked out anyways. long story long, i bought a 90-lb pig from shuff's meat market in thurmont, maryland and "borrowed" one of them long choo-choo-train propane cookers from my brother's job at fort detrick (it was MIL SPEC for all you g.i.'s). we set that booger up in the back yard and cranked the flame to medium low and cooked a pig for about 18 hours. i had stuffed the chest cavity with sausage meat from said shuff's so it wouldn't burn through there. as the piggie cooked, grease began pouring out the one side of the choo-choo cooker, much to the delight of the neighborhood dogs. needless to say, the next day when folks arrived, it was gooood as andy griffith would say, and we sliced him up into those big industrial aluminum foil trays and served it with mustard and rolls. subtotal: i roasted me a porker pretty good if i do say so myself. thanks, united states army.

neighbor sez: 'gonna eat me some pig...'

later that year: roast pig at 'eileen's' filipino restaurant in wheaton, maryland. the pig is called lechon and it is cut up into cube-y chunks and broiled. i think that it is roast whole first, so it qualifies as roast pig instead of funky pork. anyhoo, it was a little on the over crunchy side, and definitely salty - kind of like mutuated bacon bits but really tasty. i did NOT do any karaoke while eating there. subtotal: lechon = mabuti!

not much later than that: old lahaina luau on maui. what's not to like, i was in freaking hawaii. the luau was not too bad, pretty touristy, the drinks totally lousy (shot out of a bartender's phaser gun), but they did the whole 9 yards of burying the pig underground in leaves, the doing the unearthing ceremony with a bunch of polynesian linebackers. the pig was tasty, not too greasy, and the poi with the pig rocked the house/hut/tiki room. when you eat poi by itself, it's pretty foul, though. subtotal: roast pig and poi surrounded by wahines and wearing an aloha shirt. score. bring my own drinks next time.

which comes to the 2005, which was the trinity of piggy goodness for me.

1) ellsbury, missouri: the reception for my cousin's daughter's baptism. the food of celebration: A WHOLE ROASTED PIG, complete with the apple in the mouth. it came from the local butcher - martha stewart had nothing on this guy. this was at least as good as the one i had cooked in 1998, perhaps a bit more smoky of a flavor. daaaaamn good. drank more beer. forgot to take pix :(

2) chef shangri-la in north riverside, a burb of chicagolandtownburg. besides being a tiki shrine outside of the wonderful city windy, the group that we joined here for exotica 2005 was served a whole CHINESE ROASTED PIG. heavens to betsy! this was pig to top all pigs. they must cook this with ancient chinese secret like making peking/beijing duck -- sealing the inside with juices and searing the outside so they keep everything inside all herby spicy moist. the skin was like hardcore chinese pork rinds, YUMMMMMMMMM. so best. if you can ever get whole roasted chinese pig, DO IT.

3) to wrap it up, had dinner at famous old spanish restaurant tio pepe here in baltimore. mucho gusto! i opened the carta and what did i see but roasted suckling pig. holy circle of life batman! back to the european baby piggie connection. was called cochinillo asado i believe. it was clearly more mediterranean than the german version, but still tender and yummy and crunchy and piggy. dang.

subtotal: midwest, chinese, spanish pig. eaten by me, a long pig. i'd have to give it to the chinese pig by a snout.

GRAND TOTAL: my, i've eaten alot of roasty pig. not to sound repetetive repetetive, but teh best evar PIG has to be chinese roasted pig.

epilogue: damn i like me some roasted pig. the future plans are to figure out how to cook one hawaiian style in my backyard in a pit. but i must reverse-engineer the chinese kung fu peking pig too and factor that in. that would be like some asian fusion dealy, no? mmmm....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask and you will receive. Check your email Moai brother.


2:49 PM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

thanks cannibal!

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Back home in LA where Chinese roast pig is *plentiful*, my dad would often get a whole roast pig for the annual Visit-Your-Ancestor's-Graves day. First you'd present it to your ancestors, do a few pagan rituals, then, when it looks like your ancestors haven't taken a bite out of the pig, you can have the rest.

11:42 PM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

dang that's cool paranoid, i wish we had that tradition. i suppose the most of my ancestors would probably dig on the pig.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, that ceremony is called bai san. You also burn paper money in huge oil barrels, and serve all sorts of other cantonese/toisanese foods. You only do it up until your ancestors turn 100 though, and then wait until your next set of kin pass away and continue until they turn 100, etc.

6:06 AM  

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