Super Bowl Sunday. The greatest sports-related day of the year. The day that millions of people across this great nation celebrate Drinking, Swearing Loudly, and, um…something else….oh yeah, the Glorious Game of Football!
By time-honored tradition, it is also a day devoted to the eating of salty/greasy/spicy foods with careless abandon. Nary a thought is spared on Super Bowl Sunday for such tedious, non-football abstractions as low density lipoprotein counts, chronic gastritis, runaway hypertension, arteriosclerosis, quintuple bypass surgery, etc.
And that is as it should be. For while we may devote the other 364 days of the year to heeding the wise words of physicians and reading the fine print on nutrition labels*, there must be at least one day of the year when we as a nation let down our dietary hair, so to speak, and just indulge.
(* Yeah, right. I don’t believe that load of malarkey either, but just play along okay?)
And so I propose that Super Bowl Sunday, the year’s ultimate pigskin event, should also be the day that we proudly celebrate a porcine product closely related to the football: the Pork Rind.
Pork rinds (i.e., cured pork skins, usually deep fried) and pork cracklins (fried pieces of pork fat with a small amount of attached skin) are in many places revered as perhaps the richest and most flavorful part of the pig. In Latin cultures, they are called chicharrones and are eaten as snacks and used as a filling for delicious arepas, pupusas, tacos, and more. The French use grattons (and the similar lardons) in stews, vegetable dishes, and salads. Around the world, from Hungary to Hanoi, in sandwiches, soups, egg dishes, stir-frys, and more, the noble pork rind can be found.
But in many places in America, things are quite different.
In the American South, in addition to being a popular snack, cookbooks and food traditions pay open homage to pork skin (and its kin) in many fine dishes. But that, sadly, is the exception: in the grand and venerable family of snack foods, the gnarly pork rind is often perceived as the uncouth, slightly embarrassing, trailer park-dwelling second cousin of the cleaner, classier potato chip.
The roundly maligned rind has long been the butt (and the punchline) of jokes in this country, and those who enjoy them are forced, like fetishists, into hiding their deviant affection as though it were a shameful secret.
But all that is changing. The tide began to turn when an actual sitting president from New England, no less, boldly outed himself as a passionate partisan of pork rinds.
Recently, an equally unlikely event took place. In an article titled Genius Junk Foods, a gen-u-wine Registered Dietician came thisclose to declaring pork rinds a healthy snack!
(Dr. Atkins, who was responsible for the sale of more pork rinds than any man who ever walked the earth, is now smiling down from Low Carb Heaven.)
Like many other respectable foods, pork rinds now have their own gorge-a-thon event: last year, the International Federation of Competitive Eating sanctioned a World Pigskin Eating Competition.
(The winner had this to say: “Pffaaftth!….cccAAAakk!…..ttthhooooff!…wuh…wuh…WATER!“)
Pork rinds have even been turned into a Callebaut chocolate-dipped gourmet treat. (Granted, according to the Amazon page, ‘Customers Who Bought Related Items’ and ‘Customers Who Viewed This Item’ have some disturbingly peculiar interests, but who among us doesn’t?)
And so, with the momentum toward general acceptance that pork rinds have gained recently, I believe the time has come to take a stand. To stop straddling the fence. To fish or cut bait. To…to…well, at any rate it’s definitely time for me to stop using wheezy old cliches to describe being decisive…
It’s time, dammit, for us to be decisive!
That’s why I’m encouraging you, the pork rind-partaking populace, to contact your congresspersons. I want you to request, no…to demand that they introduce and speedily pass legislation declaring the first Sunday in February be henceforth and forever known as National Pork Rind Appreciation Day!
I’m serious. Now is the time, people. Calvin Trillin — single-handedly — almost got Thanksgiving changed to Spaghetti Carbonara Day. Imagine what we can do together!
And to those who don’t believe we can do this, I say to you: Yes We Can.
The new president, though not a pork rind fan, has encouraged the nation to take an active part in the political process. Here’s the perfect opportunity! Call, write, fax, email, and text your congresspersons right now – and every day until they relent! Insist they drop everything and get right on this!
And if your congressperson tells you that you’re certifiably insane and that you’ll never make this happen, answer firmly: Yes We Will.
Because if we all pull together on this, if we make our collective political will known, if we stand up and tell our congresspersons, in a clear and steady voice, that if they don’t enact this legislation they’ll be flipping burgers come the next election cycle, then around this time next year – on National Pork Rind Appreciation Day – we’ll be able to stand together and proudly say, with pork rind-crumbed smiles: Yes We Did!
Please join us tomorrow to read our new article, Delicious Last Minute Recipe Ideas for Your Super Bowl Party, as part of this week’s special Meat Eater’s Series.
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