Saturday, October 11, 2008
Peaux de porc!
During the 1988 presidential campaign, Vice President George H.W. Bush admitted in an interview that he loved to snack on fried pork skins. He immediately received criticism from two distinct groups of hand-wringers: those who said the patrician Bush was simply trying to appeal to rural and suburban rubes by pretending to like pork skins, and those who said a sitting Vice President shouldn't be encouraging anyone - rubes included - to eat anything as unhealthy as pork skins.
Since the mini-imbroglio over George H.W. Bush's eating habits is old, old news, I ain't gonna dwell on it. All I'll say is this:
Bush made his fortune in Texas' oilfields, so it's not inconceivable that he acquired a taste for something that's sold in practically every market in the south, not to mention in a lot of BBQ joints (more about that in a second). And, Bush didn't tell anyone to eat pork skins, he just said he liked 'em. Indeed, I don't recall any mass runs on pork skins after the Vice President of the U.S. supposedly inferred that everyone should go out and get some.
That said, I, too, like pork skins. Even though I was a young pup - young rube? - when Bush 41 stated his affinity for the tasty little things, I remember thinking, "This is my kind of guy!"
I'll be the first to admit that pork skins don't have a lot of nutritional value; but if you're not eating bags of 'em each day, while sitting on the couch, there ain't nothing wrong with enjoying the little salty, fatty buggers from time to time. I know it's hard concept for a lot of people to grasp, but if über-moderation is your guiding principle vis-à-vis putting things in your body, you can pretty much eat or drink anything.
[Sidebar: I'm reminded of a little episode from my high school days. I had a part-time job as a gopher at a truck, tractor and trailer dealership when I was in 11th and 12th grade. I worked my ass off in that job. One day, I delivered and fetched parts all over town, and I didn't stop for lunch. I stopped at a convenience store and picked up a bag of pork skins and a bottle of Gatorade. I was sitting in the break room enjoying my "lunch" when a co-worker came in, cigarette in hand. She bought a candy bar and a Coke or Pepsi or something. When she saw what I was eating, she exclaimed, "Ew! Those things are bad for you!" True story.]
You get the best pork skins in barbeque joints that fry their own. In fact, there are few treats in this world better than a freshly fried pork skin that still has some meat on it. (In Nashville, you can get some mighty fine pork skins at Neely's BBQ near MetroCenter.) As far as bagged pork skins are concerned, Papa Brim's are the best.
Now, I've never been too keen on the puffed-air pork skins that every potato chip manufacturer under the sun turns out, and which you can find at practically any grocery store in the U.S.A. Every time I've ever seen them things in a market or grocery store I've said under my breath, "Those aren't pork skins! They're just puffed pieced of pork-flavored who-knows-what!"
Today, however, I decided to take a chance on a package of Golden Flake's puffed-up pork skins because, well, the packaging featured a bottle of Bruce Food's Louisiana hot sauce. The texture didn't do much for me (they more air than skin), but damn did those pork skins taste good ... good and hot! They almost - almost - made me forget about how much I like honest-to-God pork skins. And I ain't just blowin' smoke by saying that, neither.
One of these times when I'm looking for a hot snack, I will be gettin' me another bag of Golden Flake pork skins. Try some sometime. You'll be glad you did!