Australians Outraged Over Qantas Pork Ban

To the outrage of some Australians, pigs can no longer fly on Qantas airlines.

Many meat eaters can talk for hours about their love of bacon, but when the airline took pork off their menu the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages were bombarded with racist and religiously offensive comments.

On the heels of a new partnership with Dubai-based Emirates airline, Qantas removed the meat from some of its flights to appease those prohibited from eating pork due to religious restrictions. Even though Qantas maintains the elimination will minimally affect its menu, the usually happy-go-lucky Australians were outraged and many of them spewed their hatred via social media.

The airline has since pleaded with its followers to stray from posting such comments, and is removing anything that might be considered offensive. If things continue to escalate, the airline may even go so far as to disable commenting for a period of time.

[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]

Cochon 555 Pork Competition Turns Five, Kicks Off February 17 In Atlanta

Much ado about pork products is made on Gadling, with good reason. Even if you’re sick to death of pork-centric eateries, and lardo this and sausage that, it’s hard to deny the allure of the other white meat (I can’t tell you how many vegetarians and vegans I know who still have a jones for bacon).

For those of you wanting to attend the ultimate porkapalooza, get your tickets for Cochon 555, a traveling, “National Culinary Competition & Tasting Event Dedicated to Heritage Pigs, Family Wineries & Sustainable Farming.”

The 10-city tour kicks off February 17 in Atlanta, and will include stops in New York; Boston; Chicago; Washington, DC; Miami; Vail; Seattle; San Francisco; and Los Angeles, before culminating in the dramatic Grand Cochon at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen on June 16. Notice that Colorado gets two Cochon visits? The South isn’t the only place that appreciates pork.

Cochon was created by Taste Network’s Brady Lowe to raise awareness about, and encourage the sustainable farming of heritage-breed pigs. At each destination, five celebrated local chefs must prepare a nose-to-tail menu using one, 200-pound, family-raised heritage breed of pig. Twenty judges and 400 guests help decide the winning chef. The 10 finalists will then compete at the Grand Cochon for the ultimate title of “King or Queen of Porc.”

Depending upon venue, attendees can also expect tasty treats like Heritage BBQ; butchery demonstrations; mezcal, bourbon, whiskey and rye tastings; specialty cheese sampling, cocktail competitions; a Perfect Manhattan Bar, raffles, and killer after-parties.

For additional details and tickets, click here. Partial proceeds benefit charities and family farms nationwide.

[Photo credit: Flickr user out of ideas]

Sacramento Serves Up Second Annual Baconfest

Pork products may have reached their tipping point, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate their existence. The second annual Sacramento Baconfest, held January 20-27, pays tribute to “pork from pigs who lived healthy, happy lives at farms where farmers value ethical and sustainable food production.” I’ll scarf some pork belly to that.

All bacon and other charcuterie served at Baconfest are made in-house by “Sacramento chefs who give a damn about quality natural foods.”

So besides cured meat products produced by introverted industry people with tats of butcher’s charts on their forearms, what can you expect at Baconfest? Besides lots of saturated fat? For starters, there’s an opening night party at Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co., featuring a special menu by chef Brian Mizner. There there’s the BLT Bike Crawl; Baconfest-vs-Sacramento Beer Week; a Chef’s Competition; a “secret event,” and a multitude of special dinners and happy hours. And let’s not forget the “Second Annual Kevin Bacon Tribute Night,” which features local bands playing songs from the actor’s films (“to the first degree.”).

Sounds like a blast, and the makings of a swine time. And hey, check this out: most of the events are free; those that do charge minimal fees give back to local chefs, restaurateurs and the very fine Center for Land-Based Learning in nearby Winters.

[Photo credit: Flickr user ChefMattRock]

Video: Naked Ham Man In Banned British Commercial

I knew it was going to be a good day when I woke up this morning, turned on the computer to browse the news on, and came across a hot naked man singing to a ham sandwich.

Admittedly, such imagery isn’t to everyone’s taste (seriously? But there’s cured meat!). But that’s not why Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned this witty commercial for Richmond Ham. It got, uh, canned, for a failure to uphold truthful standards in advertising, by declaring itself “Britain’s only natural ham made with 100% natural ingredients.” The ham is actually made in Ireland.

Killing The Pig: The Annoying Foodie Obsession With Pork

I’m tired of pork. There, I said it. Pork belly, bacon, pulled pork, pork shoulder, pork terrines, charcuterie, head cheese, roasted suckling pig, porchetta, pancetta. I’m ready for this macho eating craze for all things piggy to finally go away.

I’m a very pork-patient sort of guy. Homer Simpson said it best in expressing his empuzzlement when his daughter Lisa became a vegetarian, asking what she could and couldn’t eat:

Homer: “What about bacon?”
Lisa: “No!”
Home: “Ham?”
Lisa: “No!”
Homer: “Pork chops?
Lisa: “No! Dad those all come from the same animal!”
Homer: “Yeah right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical, animal.”

Homer is right. But it’s time take an electrical prod to the head of this porcine passion. The straw that broke the pig’s back for me was when I noticed last week a restaurant down the street from my apartment in New York’s West Village opened up called Swine. It’s not all pork on the menu but it reads like a farce – a caricature unto itself – of 2012 menu trends, right down to the name of the restaurant itself.

As a nation increasingly obsessed with food our fetishization of pork is holding us back, arresting the development of our palates. Where’s the beef? Let’s go back to boring chicken for a while. What ever happened to tofu?

Oh, there are other food trends I’m tired of, too. See: deviled eggs, Brussels sprouts, bone marrow, beets, anything fried in duck fat, short ribs. I’m even tired of foie gras. And don’t get me started on the insanity that foodies exhibit every spring at the first (or second or third) sighting of ramps at a farmers market or on the menu of a restaurant (it usually goes something like this, “RAMPS! OMG, RAMPS!” and can be found on the social media of your choice.

Food trends ebb and flow – that’s why they’re trends, after all. Tapas was all the rage in New York and other American cities in the last decade, crossing the edible Spanish threshold into cuisines that have no history of serving food on small plates; the most comical I saw was something called “Australian tapas.” But this one, this proclivity for American-ish comfort food, is sticking around like bad leftovers left in the fridge during a long vacation. And it’s starting to reek. We’re in a recession, which means, like the big baby foodies that we are, we need to be comforted and held, spooned by porkliscious byproducts until the euphoric porcine food coma we put ourselves in takes us away.

For the record, I do think the “trend,” or “movement” might be a better word, of sourcing the provenance of our food is a good one. And I hope it sticks around. But do we need the economy to vastly improve before we change our eating habits? I just want this nation of eaters to graduate from what has become the poster animal of the relatively recent obsession with food. Is that so much to ask? In the meantime, I’m going to walk down to Swine to see if it’s still open.