Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Today's delivery of an especially weighty tome was all the better for not being a book I'd had on pre-order for ages but one that had caught my eye when reviewed and positively drooled over on UK Food's new Market Kitchen show.

And Pork & Sons is even better than I anticipated, it is pale pink chequered, slightly padded (I don't know why) and extremely porky in both size and content. When I explained to the astonished cookbook monitors at work that it was all about pork one colleague asked me whether I needed a cookbook on pork, in fact did I need another cookbook? Well, possibly not but that's hardly the point. I could collect classic cars; I always thought that would pose a much greater problem with storage. And I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that one of my clients collects wolves (maybe 'collects' in the wrong verb here) which in my mind would seem considerably more challenging and possibly slightly more dangerous than one or two cookbooks.

But I digress, what sort of porcine treats does Pork & Sons contain? Well think of any part of a pig and there’s bound to be a few ways to cook this tasty morsel, it really does worship the whole hog as it were. There are the more usual recipes like pork tenderloin with porcini stuffing, blanquette of pork, casserole of rack of pork in hay and whole ham with honey & cloves all the way to the slightly obscurer stuffed pigs ears, pig's head and parsley pâté, pig's tongue with sorrel and a delicious looking black pudding, apple, potato & fennel tart. As an inveterate sausage eater, I really am in hog heaven wading through the 150 porky recipes. I can so see why this book won so many awards when it was first published in France last year.

The author Stephane Reynard learnt the ways of the pig in Saint Agrève on his grandfather’s knee and attended his first pig slaughter at the age of seven. Some thirty years later he’s captured the lore and allure of his fabulous rustic and rich piggy world in this fascinating and truly beautiful book. The photos will make you immediately reach for the nearest bacon sandwich and each of the thirteen chapters are also illustrated with wonderful little pig sketches. For example, the chapter entitled Piggy Party is slightly disturbingly enhanced with little ink drawings of a pig pole dancing and another in basque and full bondage regalia! The Black Pudding chapter has a little cartoon pig climbing into a black casing and becoming an instant bourdin noir and as you can imagine the Barbecued Pork chapter has a plump pig sporting sunglasses sunning itself and sipping cocktails. Exactly!

While this quintessential pig coffee-table cookbook celebrates the delicious qualities of pork in all its myriad forms, it also opens a window onto a rare and personal world of a day-in-the-life of a small family business in rural France. Part cookbook and part memoir, Pork & Sons also introduces us to some of the colourful characters who assist Stephane in the whole piggy rituals, including Eric the Pig Farmer, Aime the Butcher, Blachou and his faithful dog, Florette, Bibi the Bistro Owner and a the three pâté makers Pompom, Kiki and Jacquy.

I think this is a truly stunning porky book and worthy of any collection, even if like me you have quite a few cookbooks already. And it's has the desired effect, as I am totally thinking all things porcine now! Mmmm pig!

1 comment:

Richard said...

Great minds and all that... Just reviewed this myself! I also love it to bits.
It's been on my desk at work for the last couple of days - no-one can walk by without picking it up and falling in love!