Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We Love Pork

It is a seven hour flight from New York City to San Francisco. Seven long hours with nary a meal in sight but all the Direct TV you can stomach. I had a book, and a magazine, and a tiny white bag filled with Italian pastries. But I had nothing substantial to eat. This shouldn't have been a problem if you take into consideration the endless meals and snacks I'd been munching on for fifty-eight hours. But still, the idea of seven hours with no real food was enough to make me hungry on the spot. Thank goodness there was still food to be had in New York City.

We wandered through the East Village, slow and quiet on a lazy Sunday afternoon, until we came to Porchetta. Porchetta is a tiny restaurant. There are six stools and space for a line of about six people -- and that's if you don't mind standing close to the person in front of you. It is an intimate little party. The menu is small too. You can order the porchetta plate, the porchetta sandwich, a small selection of porchetta complementary sides. Making the decision was easy. The porchetta plate seemed unlikely to travel well but the sandwich? Oh yes, it would be perfect.

This porchetta is pork loin wrapped in pork belly and seasoned with a thick green paste of fennel, sage, rosemary, thyme, and garlic. Then it is oven roasted until it is tender and savory and smells like pork perfume.

While I waited I watched pork juices run down the fingers of hearty eaters and grabbed a few extra napkins for the road. We were the only people in line but it seemed to take forever for our little pork bundle, wrapped well in foil and brown bagged, to be presented to us.

I am sure this sandwich would rate in the top ten sandwiches of my life, had it been eaten warm. The sad fact is that after a few hours on the plane my porchetta sandwich presented itself as cold pork wrapped in a thin layer of white fatty lard. Perhaps this shows that I am not a true gastronome, but this cold soft mess was a bit too much for me. I ate around the lard, digging soft bits of pork out of the center of the sandwich. M. inherited a crescent moon shaped mess that he claims he enjoyed eating, fat and all. Of course he did eat it the next day, warmed, for lunch. As it should be eaten, I think.

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