Tag Archives: pigs

New Book Coming

While this blog is titled Midwest Maize, after my first book of food history, it will have to do for future food history and Midwest-oriented books, as I can’t quite imagine starting a new blog with every book.

Which is why I’m using it to introduce my next book: Pigs, Pork, and Heartland Hogs: From Wild Boar to Baconfest. The book won’t be out for a couple of months, but it is already on Amazon, with a few reviews and the option of pre-ordering. So in case you thought I might have stopped studying after I wrote about corn, I didn’t.

Pigs were once known as cornfields on legs, because the easiest way to get pigs to market was to feed it to pigs and then let the pigs walk to market. So the connection between pigs and corn in the Midwest dates to the earliest settlement of the region. However, the history of humans and pigs dates back a lot longer than that–current estimate is 12,000 years of association. So there are a lot of tales of pigs through history, from the Celts inventing bacon to the Etruscans leading herds by playing trumpets. But the book isn’t all history. There are visits to farms and interviews with experts ranging from swine technicians to butchers and chefs to waste management specialists. There are some iconic regional recipes. And there are lot of the kinds of fun facts that make food history so enthralling.

On top of entertaining folks, I’m hoping this book will contribute to closing the gap between what people think about food and how it actually gets to us. There are a tremendous number of really good, decent, dedicated people working very hard to make sure you don’t starve. Come and meet a few of them in my books.

You can check it out here: Pigs, Pork, and Heartland Hogs.

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Filed under Agriculture, Corn, Culture, Farming, Food, History, Literature, Midwest, Midwest Maize, Thoughts

Across Iowa

From Moline, I continued my journey westward, into Iowa. While all states in the Midwest are major corn producers, Iowa is number one. With no sprawling mega-metropolis, like Chicago and all the connected cities and suburbs (almost unbroken, from Gary, IN, to Milwaukee, WI), and no geographic interruptions, like the Sand Hills region of Nebraska, Iowa is pretty much farms from border to border. Sure, there are cities, but there’s nothing like the uninterrupted urban sweep on the shores of Lake Michigan. On the whole, it’s largely rural—so lots of corn. (Lots of pigs, too—they’re also number one for those.) So, writing a book on corn, I of course had to go to Iowa.

Arriving in late afternoon left little time for work, so I settled into my hotel room and then called an acquaintance in town who knew I’d be visiting. Jean had sent me some info about the area and said she might have some contacts for me. She showed up with a few more brochures plus the name of a place for dinner—an Ecuadorian restaurant named Mi Patria. I’ve been to Ecuador, so I looked forward to checking this place out. As it turned out, it was excellent. We ordered the Mi Patria platter, which included roasted chicken, grilled marinated steak, pulled pork (possibly the best item on the plate), friend plantains, an interesting dish of pozole (hominy) and fava beans, rice with a fried egg, and stewed beans. Lots of excellent food for a reasonable price, and plenty of leftovers for Jean to take home.

Back at the hotel, I went through information for onward travels. However, I needed to make it early night. I was feeling a bit unwell and hoped a good night’s sleep would fix that.

And tomorrow, the Living History Farms.

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Filed under Corn, Farming, Food, Travel