Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lard: A Brief Interlude

This morning I woke with a mission, and that mission did not include a steamy kitchen or sticky pans.

In the space of 24 hours, no fewer than three people--a chef at Pizzeria Delfina; my hairstylist Camilla; and Thy, a writer for KQED--insisted that lard is the only way to go for an expert pie crust. Because I was ramping up to bake around 50 pies for a benefit event, I was in need of solid advice.

"Lard is my mom's secret weapon," said the chef, who hails from Iowa. Camilla, also a native Iowan, can't attend but insists she'll send her husband with lard-laden pie. Thy, another Midwesterner, agreed.

So the day was spent researching recipes with lard and then hunting down a good local source. Avedano's, my friendly neighborhood butcher shop, doesn't carry lard, but said they'd find it for me. The butcher's assistant wrote "Colleen: lard for 30 pie crusts" on their special orders notepad.

Social media tools like Facebook recognize the need for connection and power of social networks. When I first considered organizing a gathering of people and pies but didn't have a location, I posted a query to my Facebook profile and responses filled my inbox.

And there's a lot of value in that connection, particularly if you move a lot, as I have. It's not until recently, when I hit my three year mark in San Francisco, that I appreciated the living, breathing networks in my everyday life: the hairdresser who bakes cookies for me, the cook who doesn't know my name but sent a pane pomodoro because I looked hungry, the vegetarian butcher I bumped into on Valencia when I walked home late last night.

Farmer's markets pulse with that same sense of connection and relationship, an acknowledgement of the forces that bind us. Each of us breathes, dreams and dies, but there's nothing so pleasurable as eating to discuss, fuss over, and pause to enjoy.

If you're in San Francisco the afternoon of July 13th and have $20 burning a hole in your pocket, come to the pie social at the Women's Building on 18th at Guerrero. It would be nice to see you.


DMP said...

Lard adds a richness, and a nice meaty flavor.
To pies and tamales, which many can savor.
But to those who don't eat it, like vegans and Jews,
Lard is a real bummer, you'll gain less (i.e. lose)
So when planning your social, please forgive if I mutter....

Lard IS fine and dandy, but don't forget butter!

colleen said...

oh david, sweet david
i nearly follow your logic

but to reject lard?
it's simply demagogic

how many attendees are vegan or hasid?
enough to select butter, with crusts too soft or rancid?

to set a course for pies flaky and divine,
connect the dots to your lips from the sow's behind

so, david, there's one ingredient we'll need to safeguard...

hate to break it to you: the answer is lard

DMP said...

Another poem for Colleen:

When you leave your apartment, take a good look around.

If all goes correctly, some advice you'll have found.

While lard is quite tasty, you might take a fall.

But a crust made of butter attracts one and all.

It's really quite simple, the choice isn't hard.

When you're making a pie, CHOOSE BUTTER (NOT LARD!)

colleen said...

i regret to inform your threat falls on deaf ears

my crusts will be delightful, the toast of your peers

like santa claus, the easter bunny, the tooth fairy too:
some truths we should keep between me and you

so why can't this be a secret, hush hush?

must anyone know there's pork in that crust?

colleen said...

mysterious messages bubble up and appear;
trust me, david, your opinion is clear:

Thy Tran said...

Hi Colleen, Definitely looking forward to the pie social. BTW, I prefer to mix lard and butter for the right balance of flavor and flake. For pork-free piese, I admit I use a couple of tablespoons of -- gasp! yes! -- shortening. All things in moderation, even pie...

Emma said...


I like half lard or shortening (for texture) and half butter (for flavor). Yum.