(cured) MEAT + 3 - Observation Edition - 6/8/20

The last few weeks have been ones of intense reflection. With so many powerful things being said, it's been a period of listening, rather than speaking. For this reason, we've taken a little break from our weekly (cured) MEAT + 3 newsletter in the last couple of weeks. The reflection has a long way to go, but I wanted to take the opportunity for this weeks Meat + 3 to share a cured meat that is as much a symbol of our culinary history as it is a delicious pantry staple.  The "3" are 3 powerful things I've heard or read in recent days, that have resonated, and helped in my reflection process.  Thank you for reading! 


Cheers,
Charlito


The Meat:



Salt Pork. It's kind of like saying the naked body when you're talking about cured meats. It is a foundation of so many things - both edible and historical. In this moment, when we are confoundingly in need of examining and repairing many of our societal foundations, it's a fitting cured meat to consider. At the end of the day, whether it's bacon, prosciutto, country ham, or salami, it's all salt pork in various forms. But at its core, it is meat and salt, 2 simple ingredients, 2 fundamental building blocks for thousands of dishes across the world, and deeply rooted in historical significance, left to spend meaningful time together, so that they might synergistically create a powerful tool, with great longevity, and go on to be a foundation for a wide array of mind blowing and transformative things. On its own, meat will rot. On its own, salt does not nourish. But together, they are magical. In many ways, this is what our collective culture needs now - to identify the singular raw elements in ourselves, and harvest them in their raw form, so that we may blend them in a way in which we are synergistic with and complementary of one another. If you've never made salt pork, try it. In addition to a powerful metaphor, it is a stout ingredient to have around for a wide array of dishes. There are so many ways to make it, but a straightforward one that I like is, take some raw pork (could be scraps, fat, or a whole piece- whatever you have), cover it with salt, and let it sit in your refrigerator for 1 day per 1 lb of pork.  


The 3

In a few words, I was lucky that James Baldwin came into my life when I was 15, by way of his novel. The Fire Next Time.  He helped me become interested in books, which I am so grateful for.  He is a sage and a timelessly essential voice.   

1) James Baldwin interview, The Art of Fiction No. 78, The Paris Review

INTERVIEWER
You say the city beat him to death. You mean that metaphorically.

BALDWIN

Not so metaphorically. Looking for a place to live. Looking for a job. You begin to doubt your judgment, you begin to doubt everything. You become imprecise. And under. that's when you're beginning to go under.

You've been beaten, and it's been deliberate.

The whole society has decided to make you nothing. And they don't even know they're doing it"



2) Ari Weinzweig is the co-founder of the Zingerman's Community of Businesses in Ann Arbor Michigan. He writes a weekly newsletter called Ari's Top 5 List, that I love receiving every week in my inbox, as Ari is always dropping valuable knowledge.  I highly encourage you to sign up too!  This past week, in a discussion on the topic of "beliefs," Ari considered the often untold story of the banjo, as told to him by musician/scholar Rhiannon Giddens, and it's history as an African instrument brought to the US by enslaved people. He writes, "Thousands of years of tradition were quietly rewritten. It came to be “common knowledge” that “only white people” were skilled enough to play banjo properly and professionally." Towards the end, Ari writes what, for me, has become a question that has opened the door to many other questions this week, whose importance cannot be overstated: "The question I’m asking myself in the moment, and maybe you want to ask yourself, too, is “How many other ‘banjos’ do we have in our lives that we’ve never given two minutes of thought to?” What a profound and useful question in this process of reflection!


3) The Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) is a seriously inspiring organization. Here is their mission: "The Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies, and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. Our work sets a welcome table where all may consider our history and our future in a spirit of respect and reconciliation." The statement on the homepage of their website captures a much needed sentiment that needs to be embraced if we are to create a path towards overcoming racism:

"Founded in 1999 by a purposefully diverse group of Southerners, SFA works to bridge divides in a long-divided region. Early on, founders Lolis Eric Elie and the late John Egerton wrote an open letter to our board of directors, challenging passivity and disabusing SFA of assumptions that “reconciliation will take place naturally, without premeditation, among people of goodwill, and that silence is an indication that all is well.” They disagreed, writing, “It is too easy to slip into the comfortable assumption that if no one is talking about racial inequities, they no longer exist.”
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