Jan 14, 2010

Super Bacon


Hungarians have love affair with bacon. It's not a healthy relationship, but, like so many ruinous affairs, it's fueled by passion. I like to tell people that Hungarians have more types of bacon than Eskimos have word for snow. It might even be true. I heard once that the supposed snow-bound vocabulary of Eskimos is just just a fabrication. Also, Hungarians really produce, and consume, a plethora of different type of bacons. It's a question of what part of the pig it came from, and also whether it's cooked, smoked, covered in spices or not, and probably a number of other things I have no idea about.

It is also a question of what kind of pig it came from. Because there are pigs and there is managalica (also spelled mangalitsa or mangalitza). Mangalica is an old Hungarian breed of pigs, directly related to wild boars. They were once popular, but almost went extinct because of those rascally communists.

Piglets are stripy like wild boar piglets.

Mangalica are a hardy lard-type breed. That from the eating point of view that they are super tasty. From the breeding point of view, they grow slower than commercial breeds, but they are much more sturdy, resistant to disease; mangalicas can be kept outdoors almost all year around, with access to shelter. Oh yeah, they are furry too!

Isn't that a handsome face?

I've been following Wooly Pigs for a while. I've even did a few translations for Heath from Hungarian to English. Just before Christmas Heath sent me some mangalica bacon. Now, I like bacon, period, but this was bacon from heaven. The flavor was deep and rich, and it reminded me of the Old Country. It's not just bacon, it's super bacon.

By the way, the four cornerstones of Hungarian cuisine are: bacon, onion, paprika, sour cream.

PS. You can buy mangalica bacon (and lard!) online!

18 comments:

Petrea said...

Those stripey piglets are cute! I love bacon but I don't want to talk about the relationship to cute piglets.

Do you remember Margaret's post about Litza?

Lyn said...

I am in love with bacon. I know I wouldn't mind a wider variety. I don't want to come across as mean, but I do come from a family of farmers. We grew and raised all that we ate.

Vanda said...

No Petra, I don't recall Litza. I might have missed that post.

Lyn, I know what you mean. I've been around a lot of farms in my childhood. I have plucked chickens.

Anyone have watched David Ramsey's F Word? Every year he raises some animals, turkeys, pigs, sheep. Then he cooks them.

Petrea said...

Here's Margaret's:
http://margaretfinnegan.blogspot.com/2009/04/going-whole-hog.html

Sorry, I'm getting lazy about making pretty links. But really, it's related to your post.

Viewliner Ltd. said...

I don't eat bacon. But I love the PIGS!

Vanda said...

Oooh, how did that turn out? I need to ask Margaret.

Linda Dove said...

I would have guessed the paprika cornerstone, but not the sour cream. Cool.

Vanda said...

Paprika is the most obvious one, but if you think about it, its the most recent addition, since it's from the Americas. Same goes for tomatoes that are also very popular in Hungary.

Jennifer said...

If that's the four basics, I could live in Hungary, just fine. I may not be able to keep off the weight as easily as some of my adolescent peers, but I'm sure not all of Hungary is as pretty with that diet.

The little piglets are adorable in the picture.
I want one.
But only if it stays a piglet, hahaha.

dive said...

Does anyone have a mop, Vanda? My living room is knee deep in drool just from reading that post.

Katie said...

I don't eat a lot of bacon, but this super bacon looks amazing! And yes the piglets are cute, but that wooly pig is awesome! Looks too big to fit in my apartment though. Here's some "bacon" that would be fun to eat, if only to gross people out:
crazy bacon

Vanda said...

Those stripy piglets look just like wild boar piglets. I know, I've seen them. However by the time they grow up they look less like wild boars.

Dive, where you live you could find Pick salami made with mangalica.

Jennifer, the only way to keep slim on Hungarian food, is working all day in the fields.

Katie, I know a place where you can buy bacon chewing gum. Sad, I know.

altadenahiker said...

I would make a terrible rancher. No matter how much I love bacon, these guys would be pets for sure.

You ever read the Blanding books by Wodehouse?

Margaret said...

Oh, LItza. Good times. Until we ate her.

Vanda said...

Oh yeah, Karin, I remember one of the Woodhouse stories with a pig. Pretty funny, as I recall.

Margaret, you'll have to tell me all about her.

pasadenaadjacent.com said...

I was a co-owner of a pig once upon a time. Caught her running up the LA River flood channel in the lower Arroyo. We named her Pig.

She was wild looking and small in size. Because of her boar-like appearance, I've often thought she was smuggled off Catalina Island and perhaps made a break for it from someone's home.

I suppose this trip down memory lane has nothing to do with bacon

Angie said...

I LOVE pigs! I also love bacon..so that's not good lol. If my backyard was big enough I might take that furry little guy home and maybe give up eating bacon..maybe.
I love the part at the end about the 4 "basic" ingredients..isn't that a meal? Just mix those four and I'm set!
one perk about being Hungarian and growing up with my mom using all those ingredients was that we NEVER went hungry!

ZS said...

Just to clear up some misconceptions about mangalica: the ancestors of this breed are the original Hungarian pigs that traveled with the nomadic tribes. They are growing very slowly and need a lot of open space to develop. That makes them uncompetitive with today's "modern" breads that are mass produced in stalls, so we should not blame the commies for the near-extinction, rather hard economic reasons.

However, the most interesting claim is that the fat of these pigs contains very little cholesterol. I did not research this myself, so do your homework. This claim, combined with the truly superior taste of the meet and bacon contribute to the new popularity of mangalica.