Thursday, October 27, 2011


The Ossabaw pig, a heirloom breed

The New Yorker has a great profile by Burkhard Bilger on Sean Brock, a rising star in the chef world with two restaurants - McCrady's and Husk, in Charleston, South Carolina. (Bon Appetit named Husk as the best new restaurant in the US for the year.)

The piece discusses, in depth, the roots of Southern cuisine and the loss (and regeneration) of original breeds of fruit, veg and beast. With a slew of other researchers to help, Brock has bred, grown and brought back once-common ingredients into the vernacular, somewhere in-between archivalist and revisionist. "Southern food is more than a collection of recipes and seeds. It's a distillate of memory and hard-won experience," Bilger writes.

There's great bit in the article that shouldn't be overlooked. In the 1800s, farmers often chose crops more for taste than hardiness. To rank how delicious any given crop was, farmers would feed it to a cow, and then measure how much saliva was produced.

Bilger cites the work of David Shields, the McClintock Professor of Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina. Shields has a section about these mouth-watering experiments in his article, "The Roots of Taste":

"Observers of animals' feeding habits had discovered certain limits and proclivities of taste. Foremost, they saw that omnivores' taste was more sensitive than herbivores', or even the carnivorous pets kept in the buildings and yards. Cats lacked sensitivity to sweetness. Dogs showed indifference to salt. Pigs, however, smelled and sampled much, loving sweet and bitter things particularly."
Read David Shields' article here, and Bilger's profile on Sean Brock here.

the clutterer Web Developer


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    Please keep up sharing.