By Kevin Burton
I’ve been mocked for many things in my day. I’m not thin-skinned, neither am I blushing as I type this.
I like pork rinds. Yep, I said it.
With the same grocery dollar that could net me cauliflower, raisins or wheat bread, I sometimes purchase pork rinds. Then I eat them contentedly.
What, I ask, is so funny about eating pork rinds as opposed to say Pringles, or pretzel bites?
Yet more than once I have made to feel the sting of derision, the crunch of disapproval if you will, because my snack of choice is made from the skin of pigs. Unfair.
Once a co-worker saw me eating pork rinds and offered (threatened?) to make me a pork rind pie. She used a fake southern accent to emphasize the long I sounds in those words.
“I’m gonna make you a pork riiind piiiiiiie!”
And I never have that problem of having a taste for red hot-flavored pork rinds, then going to the pantry where I know I have left half a bag of them, then realizing that my wife has eaten them and I have to go without. I never have that problem.
I hear you asking, ‘Is that because she can’t stand to smell them, let alone eat them, or because you never leave half a bag uneaten?’
You know, you ask a lot of questions. Anybody ever tell you that?
For the sake of science and to stop your snickering, I have turned to Melanie Fincher, writing on www.allrecipies.com, for a little knowledge on how pork rinds are made.
“The first step in the process is simmering the pork skin in boiling water. They’re then divided up into bite-size pieces known as “pellets.” These pellets are chilled for at least four hours, allowing the fat to solidify. This fat is then removed and discarded,” Fincher writes.
“Next, the pellets are left in a low-heat oven for about eight hours in order to remove as much moisture as possible. This leads us to the final step: frying. Pork rinds may be fried in peanut oil, vegetable oil, or even lard.”
“During the frying process, whatever moisture remains in the skin evaporates when it hits the hot oil, causing the skin to puff as it fries. The rinds are then seasoned while they’re still hot, and then cooled, transforming into the snacks we’re familiar with. You can find pork rinds in all sorts of flavors depending on how they’re seasoned, including barbeque, chili pepper, and more,” Fincher writes
Now doesn’t that make your mouth water?
I felt a certain vindication when the news came out that president George Bush (the elder) ate pork rinds.
“Suddenly pork rinds are classy crunch” was the headline of a 1989 story by Jennifer Stoffel in The New York Times.
“Since the presidential campaign, when it became widely known that Mr. Bush liked pork rinds, sales have been booming,” Stoffel write.
The article stated that 175,000 fresh hides from hogs arrived at the plant each week from Nebraska and Iowa and other places to be processed.
“To insure consistency, a 14-member quality-assurance team takes turns testing for texture, color, bite, oil and crunch,” Stoffel wrote.
Wow, where can I get a job like that!
The article featured the town of Westminster Ohio, which is near Lima and is home to Rudolph Foods. Then Ohio Gov. Dick Celeste had declared Westminster the “Pork Rind Capital of the World.” Rudolph Foods in turn declared “National Pork Rind Appreciation Day,” to be held each year on Super Bowl Sunday.
That’s tomorrow. Pork Rind Day is tomorrow. I have published this story early in the day so you have time to act on this news.
Also, by way of comparison, there is an “Eat Pringles and stay at home day” but it’s Aug. 6. That’s nowhere near are as cool as Super Sunday.
The allrecipies site has a section on how to eat pork rinds. It doesn’t, but it should say something like “be careful to stop inhaling when the pork rinds are gone so you do not ingest the plastic bag. Though the plastic is much less salty than the pork rinds, it offers no nutritional value.”
And those of you who wonder how the same blog that ridicules Spam products can advocate for pork rinds should really go do your taxes or wash the car or something else productive and leave, me, alone to my crunching.