Things for the restaurant are flying by at a meteoric pace right now and it seems hard to slow down enough to do anything but work and cook for sustenance; yet Christmas was such an incredible respite from hectic life. Life moves at a slower pace in the South and I will forever love that and be linked to the concept of whole animal eating due to my grand and great grandparents heritage and my mother's gracious gift of the seminal texts by Fergus Henderson "The Whole Beast" and "Beyond Nose to Tail." I grew up with fried hog jowl and black eyed peas every New Year's Eve and have now graduated to Fergus' fried pigs tails and warm pig head salad.
There is something disconcerting to the American psyche to see an animal's head sitting on a plate. I was a bit offput at times trying to cook it but it was truly an opportunity for growth and liberation. The idea that one of the most delicious salads I have ever made was born out of a necessity meat- a cut that our ancestors took great pleasure in turning into headcheese. To think something beautiful can come from a cut that terrifies so many that would ultimately agree that the end result is a success.
The peppery arugula paired with the richness of the pork and the tang of the mustard vinaigrette harmonize as much as Henderson meant it to. We must throw caution to the wind and try to cook foods out of our comfort zone. You will find yourself with combinations beyond your wildest dreams when off bits are added to your repertoire.
Unlike my usual form of posting a recipe I am going to leave you with a final thought. Find one of Fergus Henderson's books and use it to change the way you look at waste and the way you approach cooking. May every bone have a chance for a stock and every head have a chance for a salad.