Pork

This happens to me every summer. Torpor gets the better of me. It’s not that I stop cooking. I just seem to get into a fug of incapacity. I find I can cook and I can photograph. But, I just can’t write. It takes a really special dish to give me that mental kick in the apricots to force a bit of writing. This combination of free range pork belly and apricots is such a dish.

The barbecue season is just about on top of us here in Ireland. It is that brief window where Gender Neutral Adult Figure Nature (Mother Nature to the less sensitive amongst you) strings three or four days together like pearls on a necklace of summer sunshine. Not that I have any issues with Father Nature wearing pearls. But, I digress. When we get the few days of tepid sunshine leaking through the damaged ozone layer above the Emerald Isle, we immediately strip to the waist and fire up the barbecue.

I find myself at a loss for words. That is a pretty unusual state in which to be. This is an excellent dish that I hope you get to try. But, I find that when I go in search of appropriate adjectives to assist in the description, I am at a loss for words. So, I am spreading the load and asking you to fill in your own adjectives as appropriate. To help, I have compiled a list from which you can choose.

There is a lot written about food evoking childhood and other happy memories. I smile quietly to myself at the mention of a sugar sandwich or jelly and ice cream. Less pleasant feelings surface when confronted with over-cooked Brussels sprouts or boiled mutton and white sauce. Often we associate places with particular foods too. I can’t go into central Dublin without being hit with a particular memory from my teenage years. It was a dire, cold wet night. We had been into town to see a movie. I had just enough cash left to afford a bag of chips. The rest of the lads jumped a bus. I chose to trip around to Middle Abbey Street for bag fo chips. I scoffed it waiting, on Burg Quay, for the last bus. I was cold. I was wet and the crunchy chips were over-salted. I didn’t care. They were delicious. At the bottom of the bag, the fluffy potato was soaked in acrid vinegar that made me cough. I was in heaven on a cold, wet, Dublin night. Every time I cross O’Connell Bridge, that memory comes back to me.

The sauce is a triumph. A bargain hunter’s dream come true.

I love a bargain. My big problem is what psychiatrists might call “Value driven impulse purchasing”. “Half-price menswear” – keep me out of the shop or I will buy up every pair of lavender coloured trousers and those gingham shirts that most sensible men on the planet have ignored. The “bargains” I buy usually spend a period of time in the wardrobe before being transferred to the charity-shop bag and out of my life. This behaviour is all the worse because I know that I do it. Yet seemingly, I can’t help myself. So, when I saw some lovely looking plums in the supermarket at 49c for a half kilo, you can guess what happened.

Garlic Pork Chop Sous Vide (8 of 10)

Please don’t judge me too harshly. This is hardly a recipe at all. It is a testament to great ingredients and a wonderful cooking method, little more. On the criticism front, I admit that I judge people. I know that I shouldn’t. But I do. No mater how morally fortuitous you are, I bet you are also in the ranks of judgers. Picture yourself in the line at the supermarket. The rake-thin woman in front of you has a trolly piled high with overpriced “organic” vegetables and little else apart from some quinoa and Goji berries. Her shop comes to the price of a small electric car. You think about the overspend, the waste of money and how painfully thin she looks. While she roots in her gym bag for a credit card, you look behind. The trolly aft, in the charge of a middle-aged man, with his belly hanging gracefully over his waistband, is laden down with supersize Coke family-value bottles, frozen pizzas, giant sacks of crisps, oven-frys and a few boxes of microwave popcorn. You feel OK about your shop. Yes, there are a few treats but, you are not wasting money on either “organic” veg or “family-value” sugar laden drinks. Admit it, you are judging. It’s very hard not to.

It’s an oxymoronic truth that racism knows no borders. Think of that greaseball you hate because of the colour of his skin, the language you don’t understand or your pathetic fear that he will take your miserable job.  He may very well hold similar bile for some ‘foreign’ unfortunate who for reasons of geography, colour, creed or economics, has come within the scope of his bigotry.

I remember back in the day when I was promoted to Junior Account Executive at Wilson Hartnell Advertising in Dublin. I had one suit (mid-blue pinstripe) and a strong desire to progress my career. In those days, a presentation for new business would inevitably lead to, at least, one really late night in advance of presentation day. The Junior AE always getting the responsibility of photocopying and binding the vast reports that agencies thought they needed to produce. The last thing to go into the report was always the ‘creative rationale’. This was written in a ‘cart before the horse’ sort of a way, after the creative material was produced. Naturally, the rationale was written to suit the idea produced. A cynic might put forward the argument that this bit of writing would be the most creative of all, making the case for the ideas produced, often at the very last minute. But, I’m not a cynic.

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