Sunday, September 18, 2011


 With the recent trend of people accepting the origins of their food due to the work of chefs, butchers, fishmongers and all the other wonderful people who connect us with every delicious morsel that passes our lips, a book such as The Ginger Pig Meat Book is expectedly seeing tons of attention.

                Based around the Ginger Pig Farm in the UK, the book is written in a stellar and original method in that the recipes are all divided by month, depending on what farm-exclusive proteins are available at that time. Accompanying each selection of recipes is a journal entry depicting, first-person, what is going on in the farm at that time of the year. It's intriguing to learn about the intricate processes involved in day-to-day farm work and one cannot resist the heartbreak as farm-owner Tim Wilson documents the unfortunate passing of loved members of his flock due to climate, sickness and predators.

                The first segment of the book is dedicated to outlining the different proteins that are available at Ginger Pig Farm. The main proteins such as beef, pork, lamb and chicken are given larger sections, and convenient step-by-step photographs allow even the greenest of cooks to bone-out chickens, french racks of lamb and clean a rib roast. Breeds are outlined, not just flavor-wise, but Wilson also describes physical aesthetics of the animals and their personality traits, which I thought was a cool touch. Wild game such as pheasant, squab and partridge are also addressed, accompanied by the recommended months for hunting them.

                Recipes are homestyle, which is to be expected from a cookbook based upon a farm. Focusing on quality meats and showcasing them in the best light possible, grilling, braising, roasting and poaching are all techniques exhibited. The famous Ginger Pig Farm meat pie recipe is present in numerous iterations, and the notorious pie crust recipe is generously provided by Wilson and his team.

                I'd like to take some time to really bring attention to the farm-related text in the book. As a cook, farmers are cool. Farmers are the guys who do the REAL hard work, and we're given the gorgeous results of their hard labour and, in most cases, we're in charge of just heating it up, and then taking all the credit. By including "day-in-the-life" journal entries for the farm, Wilson sheds light upon a much underappreciated aspect of the food industry. It sure is a dramatic journey; from the birth of a rare breed of pigs, to the premature death of a large chunk of his lamb population, Wilson documents the rewards and heartbreak of running a farm. It truly is such a treat to have a book such as this to really highlight the work of the people raising good meat from happy, healthy and well-cared for animals.

                The Ginger Pig Meat Book has easily become one of my favorite cookbooks. Not for the same reasons as The French Laundry Cookbook or Momofuku, mind you, but as a book that, on principle, sends an important message to the uninformed. Times are a changin' in the world of food as people begin to really care about where their food comes from, and with this book, Ginger Pig Farms affirms it's position as a rallying point of such a powerful and momentous movement.

Reviewed by Kevin Jeung 
The Ginger Pig Meat Book by Tim Wilson
Hardcover, $49.95, 335pp

No comments:

Post a Comment