If you’re guessing from the title of this blog, WHOLE HOG, that I particularly like whole foods, you would be right. “Wholeness” is a many-faceted concept in the kitchen, and a guiding culinary principle in my (literal and figurative) book. It's the fuller, deeper, juicier savor of a whole roast chicken. It's adding the tender leek bottoms to the soup, and infusing the stock with the tougher leek tops. It's simmering the pear peels in the pear-poaching liquid, or poaching shrimp in their shells.
A whole roasted fish, with the skin and head and everything, is my idea of a truly marvelous dinner. I love navigating through the various, and very different, parts: the skin, the crunchy tips of the fins, the cheeks. I love the gelatinous, succulent quality the bones give the delicate meat. After consuming the first side, I love lifting out the backbone and ribs all in one piece, a la Sylvester the Cat, like unzipping a zipper, laying bare the boneless, juicy second side. It’s a very intimate encounter with a fish. I’m fortunate to know a generous fisherman who regularly offers me a couple of whole trout, so fresh they smell only of water and sunlight. He remembers to leave the heads on.