In a previous life I worked two summers for a local baking company at their production facility – they specialized in hand-finished cakes, cookies, tarts, and other tempting treats. I learned many things over those months: how to create busyness for myself when no one else would, how to divert the flirtatious advances of boys who mixed giant vats of cake batter, how to lift 10 gallon pails of frozen banana mush without breaking my back, and many, many other important life skills.
My desk was back to back with one of the sales ladies who received orders from sugar-deprived restauranteurs and cafe owners across the city. Usually sweet and sparkly (probably due to the effects of smelling cake 40 hours a week), sometimes my back would turn rigid when I heard her scold someone who hadn’t paid for their previous order. However, her effervescence always bubbled to the surface when we spoke, and often we’d swing around on our chairs and she would chatter with rapid fire intensity to me about this and that between calls. Once she told me about her dream to eventually open up a little restaurant that served only pulled pork.
It wasn’t the first time (or the last) that I had met people who submit to a career that is simply a means to an end (usually a “week” end), or of the top executive/lawyer/financial planner who decided that after a lengthy and successful but wholly unfulfilling professional life that their real passion is cupcakes/burritos/hot dogs (artisan, please) and so they take their life savings to open a little operation in the up and coming part of town unto which they can invest their dream of retiring quietly but well, amongst icing sugar and natural casings, while food bloggers tout their offerings as the Best They’ve Ever Eaten.
Oh but my cynicism carries me away sometimes. Even if we fall into the cliches of capitalistic career dissatisfaction or just really, really like food that comes in a cute little wrapper of sorts (wax paper, tortilla, bun or otherwise), it seems important to dream. While eating foods certainly has an effect on the physical body, eating foods we love has an immeasurably positive effect on the emotional body. In the same regard, the thoughts we have, the aspirations and plannings of the future…this is what the soul feeds on, to keep it motivated while we push paper and chase clients who owe us money. And those of us who are brave enough to jump into the depths of personally defined endeavours – how admirable!
I wonder if there is a new pulled pork joint in town.
Here is my pulled pork recipe. It never turns out the same, because I never measure anything (because I’m badass). I just figure it requires a balance of salty/sweet/sour, and go from there.
My Pulled Pork
A largeish shoulder of boneless pork (size depending on the number of gaping mouths at your table)
Salt components: salt, soy sauce
Sweet components: maple syrup, brown sugar, molasses, maybe even Aunt Jemima’s table syrup if you want to get so so trashy that it becomes trendy
Sour components: red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar
Other good things: ketchup, BBQ sauce (though I like to save this for when I’m actually eating the pulled pork), a few splashes of vegetable oil, some dribbles of orange juice
So: fit your hunk of pork into a slow cooker. Add generous sprinkles of salt and sugar, good sloshes of soy sauce and liquid sweetness, and a few light splashes of one type of vinegar. Squirt in a sizable amount of ketchup. Turn the meat over and over to mix everything together. Turn the slow cooker on high for 4-5 hours, or until the meat shreds easily between the tines of two forks. Eat wedged inside a soft doughy bun, possibly adorned with coleslaw, caramelized onions and mushroom, sharp mustard, or whatever else your heart desires. Eat with the anticipation of better things to come.