A Muslim's Adventures in Pork
Sep 22 2013
Image via Flickr user Verity Cridlan
These days, my housemates frequently come home to the smell of bacon—typically, it’s not till I hear the deadbolt unlock that I realize I’m stoned and standing in a kitchen, wearing nothing but elastically deficient boxers, waiting to flip bubbling strips of bacon with a fork. “Do you guys want some bacon?” I ask as they enter. They yes and forgive my indecent appearance no matter their state of the time of day. This is because bacon is fucking awesome—which is something I realized very late in life.
Although my family was never terribly religious, I was brought up Muslim enough to not eat pork, and that habit stayed with me even after LSD undid whatever little religious devotion I had in the first place. Like a lot of Muslim kids my age, I drank and fornicated, but I still gave a shit when it came to pork. I had never questioned my views against pork till I was 25 years old. At the time, I was in Philly doing boring freelance writing. I wanted to create a personal project that would be both interesting for me to write and provocative enough for people to read. Writing about eating a shit ton of pork seemed like a home run.
Over the next 12 months, I ate every pork dish I could find and wrote about most of them on a blog titled Adventures in Pork. (The subheading was “A Muslim Eats Various Pork Dishes for the First Time in His Life and Divulges his Thoughts.”) The fun part was that eating pork actually gave me some pretty fucked up thoughts. Most people who have eaten pork their entire life probably don’t realize this, but pork has a weird smell to it, a faint putrid scent that permeates the broad array of swine foods the world has to offer. I noticed the smell when I ate my first pork dish, which was a piece of cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto. Then I caught the scent in a pork chop and later in a goddamn pork rind. Being a newbie, I was hypersensitive to this weird element, and for that reason, I never blazed before eating piglets—I didn’t want to think about it too much. I did pretty well at avoiding weed for a while, but since I smoke pretty regularly throughout the day, an error was inevitable. My momentum was brought to a halt by a classic Philly sandwich.
Most people associate Philly with cheese steaks, but the city offers a variety of irresponsibly decadent sandwiches—the best one being served at John’s Roast Pork. Situated in a scenic nook between a diner and a big-box store, the restaurant’s outdoor-only seating is engulfed in an unexplained, waxy chemical smell. (For some reason, the smell usually goes away around 3 PM on weekdays.) It was noon on a Tuesday when a few friends and I hot-boxed a car on our way to lunch at John’s Roast Pork. I ordered the standard: roast pork, provolone, and broccoli rabe on a hoagie roll. The cheese pretty much covered up the smell, so it wasn’t until I bit into the sandwich that I tasted an overwhelming volume of roast pork’s signature smell. My stoned brain started to think, and before I knew it, the typical Muslim reasoning for why you should never eat pork echoed through my head: Pigs eat their own shit! Could that possibly be the source of this weird stench? I almost barfed all over John’s fine paper tablecloth.
For a brief moment, I considered giving up the whole experiment, but I came to my senses on the ride home. Modern pork has as much shit in it as any other meat I eat—it wasn’t going to kill me. I was just experiencing the adverse effects of unraveling my childhood conditioning, which was exactly what I wanted to capture in the first place. Being stoned just made the experience a bit too visceral. I picked right back up with the experiments, but after about a year of Adventures in Pork, eating pork didn’t faze me anymore, so I quit the project and hung up my blasphemy.
After that, I didn’t really indulge in pork besides upgrading to pepperoni pizza and bacon cheeseburgers. I still hadn’t breached the taboo of cooking pork at home until a few weeks ago when I was in my neighborhood supermarket. In one corner of the meat section, I spotted 30 different kinds of thick cut bacon—since that discovery, I consume at least a package of bacon a week. The benefits of bacon are numerous: It’s cheap, it’s easy to cook, people are nicer when they smell it cooking, and it produces a liquid fat that I estimate to be worth more than platinum by weight. I anticipate a lot more bacon in my future.
You can read all of T. Kid's Adventures in Pork here.
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