Lisa - I’m going to become a vegetarian! Homer - Does that mean you’re not going to eat any pork? Lisa - Yes Homer - Bacon? Lisa - Yes, Dad! Homer - Ham? Lisa - Dad, all those meats come from the same animal. Homer - Right Lisa! Some wonderful, magical animal!!!
It’s amazing how this single, ‘wonderful, magical animal‘ has been the uniting factor for so many people I know, and I am sure people you know too. Some connections would have probably started on a cheesy note with ‘Bebe, if you come home with me, I promise you bacon in the morning!’. Others would have been building up to something, but ended abruptly with ‘You know what’s better than bacon? Me buying you drink!’ Because honestly, NOTHING is better than bacon. And then there are couples walking down bacon-painted aisles to be joined forever in holy ‘porkimony’, and wedding guests showering bacon bits and blessings instead of rice and flowers on the just-married bride and groom, dressed like a leg of ham… ok, maybe not the leg of ham bit, but who knows for sure!
We all have our unique ways of celebrating pork, don’t we? And a lot of these celebrations often spill over beyond the confines of the festive dining table with a Suckling Pig Centrepiece, deep into the lives of those around, creating bonds like sausage links, delicious and long…
One such celebration started a few years ago at Salt Water Cafe called Swine Dine where your undying love for pork is all you needed to be armed with (and a little bit of early bird luck to make it to the limited 20 seats!) in order to be a part of the special, exclusive, long community table of pork lovers gathered to feast on a multi-course, nose-to-tail pork meal, designed and prepared by one of the cleverest young chefs of the country, Gresham Fernandes. A few days ago, after an illustrious round of sell-out dinners across several cities, the Swine Dine came back to its crib to celebrate its 5th anniversary, with a handful of repeat offenders regrouping for some high octane porky action. And action-packed it was!
Chef Gresham had pulled out all stops to put together a menu that had all things pork – from cocktails like Margarita and Bloody Mary infused with bacon, to soft Belly Baos and crunchy Pork Parts, a Pork Salad inspired by the legendary Bomra’s in Goa, Chops and Ribs, Curries and Roasts, Sorpatels and Chorizos, to the final hurrah of the Chocolate Cake with Bacon Jam. Keeping count of the dishes as they flew around the table was not easy, especially with the unabated flow of the smoky and meaty Bacon Ritas. But I did the hard work and counted as many as ELEVEN pork dishes served in big share bowls, wobbling on meat boards or plonked heartily on wooden platters that got passed around amidst all the crunching and munching and communing with fellow pork-lovers. “Bacon, Pork and Ham! Oh what a lucky wolf I am!” 🙂
A few years ago, ‘mad-scientist’ celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal had done a series of themed dinners called Heston’s Feasts for a select group of guests in themed costumes who were invited not just to enjoy an elaborate and delicious meal cloaked in gastronomic trickery, but also to be entertained in an ambiance straight out of the Middle Ages, or perhaps the pages of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.
No one dresses up like a pig at the Swine Dine dinners (phew!). But the sense of belonging to an exclusive community, and the desire to meet people from various professions with intriguing life stories, over a mundane yet interesting thing like pork, is what has made Swine Dine into something of a phenomenon. Passionate discussions on bizarre foods, enchanting travels and interesting dining experiences are all the entertainment you need around a table peppered with piggy cutouts of name cards, doodled place mats and cheerful fairy lights. And the porky dishes are always tantalisingly different!
Little wonder then that the community table of 20 hoggers fills up as soon as the next date is announced. Speaking of which, when is the next one, Shobita? 🙂