Writing in Slate, with reference to Deborah Valenze's Milk: A Local and Global History, Benjamin Phelan discusses the milks of various mammals, wild and domestic, and describes their culinary peculiarities. It turns out that pig's milk, in particular, is both delicious and awfully hard to procure:
And pig’s milk, alas, is also not quite ready for the American palate. With a little effort, I tracked down the chef I heard about at Whole Foods, the one who's trying to make pig's cheese. It's Edward Lee of Louisville's 610 Magnolia and Top Chef. “Anyone who farms pigs would say that pigs' milk would make an incredible cheese,” he says. “The problem is that it's nearly impossible to milk pigs. When sows are lactating, they get very aggressive. They're not docile like cows. They're smart, skittish, suspicious, and paranoid. They do not like you to get up in their business.”
Lee managed to accumulate a few jars' worth of pigs' milk, from which he made half a cup of pig ricotta that he says was delicious. Getting even such a small amount of milk required jackal-like derring-do: Lee crept up on the sows while they were sleeping, frantically pinched at their tiny nipples, then ran away when they woke up and started to freak out.
If only there were an industry that made pig-milking machines.
“What we've discovered,” says Lee, “uh, what we've concluded, you know, is basically that the machine that would fit a pig's teat is a human breast pump. It fits perfectly.”
To call Shopsin’s “a Greenwich Village institution” was to understate something profound and important and weird and funny: Shopsin’s (first a grocery store, later a restaurant) was a kind of secret reservoir of the odd and wonderful and informal world that New York City once represented, in the pre-Trumpian days of Sesame Street and Times Square sleaze: Tamara Shopsin grew up in Shopsin’s, and Arbitrary Stupid Goal is her new, “no-muss memoir,” is at once charming and sorrowing, a magnificent time-capsule containing the soul of a drowned city.
There are three more stops on my tour for Walkaway: tomorrow at San Diego Comic-Con, next weekend at Defcon 25 in Las Vegas, and August 10th at the Burbank Public Library.
I’m teaching the Clarion Science Fiction writing workshop at UCSD in La Jolla this week, and tomorrow night at 7PM, I’ll be reading from my novel Walkaway at Comickaze Liberty Station, 2750 Historic Decatur Rd #101, San Diego, CA 92106. Hope to see you!
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