“The photographs are not illustrative. They, and the text, are co-equal, mutually independent, and fully collaborative.” James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, xi.
Piglet is squealing.
Mark Ladner, chef at Del Posto, wears square granny glasses and blue latex gloves. With a practiced snap to check for fit, Ladner bends over the cutting board.
Pig: Sus scrofa domesticus: child-like. Its hairy and pink skin reflexes upon palpitation; it snuffles to the human touch. Cradled in the arms of a pubescent girl, its heart beats in languid, muffled, contented ka-thumps. It avoids cold, wet, and windy weather, preferring the safe habitations of a straw-lined litter. In the bluster of a kitchen, the pig peeks its pointed head between open oven doors, inquires into burbling pots, and trips, nervous, as though made uncomfortable by the warm voices far overhead. They speak of dinner and death. Continue reading
I’m in Chengdu Heaven.
There’s a plate of pig ear chopped in thin chunks, absolutely drenched in chili oil and Sichuan peppercorn and covered with something green that tastes like scallion, and I’m stuffing my face. The chopsticks won’t stop careening from styrofoam plate to mouth; I want to stop and my tongue buzzes but my hands involuntary swipe at more ear, rubbery and crunchy like giant pale rubber bands. “This is some pretty good pig ear,” I say, in between bites, and Chef (who’s worked at all sorts of Michelin starred and otherwise applauded restaurants) just nods, his mouth full of dan dan noodles or tripe slathered in more of that ma la concoction, I can’t really tell because he’s really shoveling it in vigorously and enjoying it. Frankie From Seattle is taking a break from the tripe (which also comes with tongue) and is capable of agreeing with me in no uncertain terms: “The best ear I’ve ever eaten.” Continue reading
Jonathan May, Dartmouth College
Having learned of my passion for food, my new friend asked for my thoughts on the best restaurants in New York City, where I reside. At the time, I was unable to give a definite answer, and my friend was baffled by my inability to do so. As a college student, I am a foodie on a limited budget. I am not fortunate enough to have the kind of wealth that allows me to experience world-renowned establishments like those in Columbus Circle. Without having tried enough restaurants, expensive or affordable, I was uncomfortable giving a hardly thorough opinion that ought to represent my vision and taste. However, I do believe that not all good food is expensive. I know for a fact that there exist hidden gems that offer superior flavor, creativity, effort and sincerity at affordable prices. It is discovering these establishments and sharing them with my friends and audience that continually drives my passion for food writing.