I ordered it willingly—and eagerly—after having read an article in this month’s issue of Food and Wine about facing your culinary fears. Lisa Abend describes her first time ordering this delicacy in
... the bartender in
This seems at once disgusting, delicious, and dangerous—a culinary experience straight out of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, which F and I watch with fascinated horror and a tinge of longing. How I wish I could get paid to travel the world for the purpose of eating—even if it does mean eating such delicacies as a rattlesnake’s still-beating heart. This is adventure. This is life!
Ms. Abend’s second experience with pig’s face, years later, is comparatively tame:
When it came time to order that night, it no longer occurred to me to feel squeamish. Face had become just one more thing to eat. And indeed, the pig face Dan and I ate that night at Atrio was delicious. The chef, Toño Pérez, had pressed it into a disk roughly the size and thickness of a chocolate chip cookie. Fried until it was golden brown and crunchy, it tasted deeply of Iberian pig. We called it “face bacon,” and laughed as we ate it.
Her second pig's face seems almost ordinary. Comparing it to something as familiar and delicious as a chocolate-chip cookie decidedly lowers it on Zimmern's bizarre foods scale. So, while dining on “face bacon” can still be considered an experience, it’s certainly not an adventure.
When I saw Rolled Pig’s Head on the menu at Mado last night, my enthusiasm may have frightened my dinner companions. I pictured Ms. Abend’s pig mask rolled into a tube, empty eye-sockets grotesquely stretched, snout jutting from one lumpy side, bristle and gristle texturing the horrible landscape. This was certain to be an unforgettable culinary adventure.
In a quick Google search for “rolled pig’s head,” among an alarming wealth of references to a man who rolled a severed pig’s head into a mosque in
We then season the pig’s head and marinate for two days in the fridge, after which we roll it up, tie it, and place it in a sous vide bag (fancy French for “vacuum-packed plastic bag”). Cook, then place into an ice bath and let it sit in the fridge for two days. After two days, cut away any stock and fat, and untie. Slice and serve.
My Rolled Pig’s Head arrived arranged on an antique, pig-shaped cutting board. It did not have eye-holes; nor did it resemble a chocolate chip cookie. I am not enough of a pork connoisseur to know what it should taste like, but I wanted it to taste distinctly like something, whether “Iberian pig” or bacon, and I wanted the “charred, bristly hairs.” Instead, it tasted like a very mild Prosciutto, with the same oily surface. I was strangely disappointed, but at least I can say that I ate the de-boned, marinated, and boiled head of a pig.
Next time, however, I want the full pig-head experience. I want the gristle, the bristle, and the snout.