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June 03, 2005 - 10:28 am


My definition of panic is eating a chicken enchilada with both pork green chili sauce and beef red chili sauce, a fish taco with jalapeño tartar sauce, and two sweet iced teas…and then realizing an hour later – in a sweat in the bathroom – that the zipper on your chinese print capri pants is seriously stuck.

Well, it's cause for alarm to say the least.

Notice how all five major food groups were represented there in that lunch: chicken, pork, beef, fish, and jalapeños – a well-balanced meal if ever there was one. Because, you know, I’m health-conscious and all.

I’m currently working out a way to deep fry bacon. The notion was first put into my head offhandedly by a friend, and I seized upon it as pure genius. I’m thinking you’d probably have to cook the bacon first, so it gets kind of crispy. Then you bread it in something light, like maybe Tempura, that doesn’t weigh down the delicate flavor of the bacon, and then you deep fry it in its own fat. Now that just sounds good, doesn’t it? I know. I came up with the details while rendering a particularly fatty pound of bacon for the lard to fry up some green tomatoes in.

Heee-dawgy! It don’t git much better’n’at, do it?

Okay, I was semi-kidding about the bacon, but maybe I should clarify that whole Elly-May-Clampett-cookin’-fried-green-tomaters bit there. ‘Cause I’m not that southern.

I volunteered my sous-chef services at an auction to benefit my kids’ former pre-school. One of the other parents, Alvin, – a road-building contractor, I believe, as well as a gun-totin’, card-carryin’ Republican with a dog named Ali-Bubba who rides with him in his pick-up truck that sports a “Dog is my co-pilot” sticker in the back window – is a fabulous self-taught chef and one hell of a guy besides. He donates this elaborate dinner for six people every year, and Alvin and a couple of assistants (Julie and Monica) handle everything. He comes up with a theme, all the recipes, and wine pairings for all the courses as well. They even serve and clean up when they’re done. I’ve been on the receiving end of the meal before, and I must say it’s pretty impressive. This year I think the dinner went for $1,800, not including the wine. Alvin takes it very seriously and has a practice dinner beforehand to get feedback from people as to how everything goes together.

In a drunken stupor after the auction, I asked if I could help out this time and Alvin immediately said yes before I could sober up and renege. This year’s theme was “Up-scale Southern,” and here’s his menu:

Mojitos, Mint Juleps, and Cuba Libres will be served, accompanied by Citrus-Flavored Scallop & Arugula Salad.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Tomme
Heirloom tomatoes seasoned with sumac, salt, and pepper, fried in rendered bacon fat, stacked on a diced tomato concasse, and topped with a combination of French and Georgian tomme cheese. The plate is garnished with wild honeysuckle. Served with Folie a Deux Ménage a Trois, 2003, a wine made with a blend of Moscato, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc.

Pooh-nita’s baby’s mama’s second cousin, on her daddy’s side, or Iced-tea Granita, for those unfamiliar with the family.

Crawdad Stuffed Mirlitons
Roasted mirlitons (also known as chayote) stuffed with crawdads and served on red and orange pepper coulis. Served with Sterling Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, 2003.

Black-eyed Pea Cakes with Pickled Red Onion & Soured Leeks
Blacked eyed peas cooked and then mashed to form cakes, which are seared on cast iron and topped with pickled red onions, soured leeks, and blue cheese. Served with Moillard Les Violettes Cote du Rhone (Rouge), 2003.

Epierreuse de Palais
Watermelon splashed with Cruzan Rum – a different kind of spiked melon.

Grilled pork Tenderloin with Peach Chutney
Grilled whole pork tenderloin sliced, topped with Georgia peach chutney (Roberta Reds and Vidalia onions), served with Fried Corn Relish, Seared Rainbow Chard, and Warm Cornbread. The dish is accompanied by Cambria Estate Bottled Syrah, Tepusquet Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, 2002.

Ginger Pudding with Fig and Baked Meringue
Ginger is infused into luscious custard, which is then baked in a Bain de Mer. Towards the end of the cooking time, the custard is topped with a ginger and fig preserve and meringue. Accompanying the pudding is Joseph Perrier Fils & Co. Brut Rose Champagne

Sounds good, doesn’t it? My part was the fried green tomatoes and generally helping out with serving, clearing, preparing for the next course, and washing dishes.

As luck would have it, the practice dinner was scheduled on the same Sunday I was flying back into Atlanta from a bridal shower in Richmond for my friend Kristie. So stay tuned for "Pork’s Good - Part Two: Acid and Scorpions," in which I talk some more about some other stuff.


reading -The Alienist by Caleb Carr
viewing - The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover
listening -"Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries" by Willie Bobo

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