Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One of those Epiphany Moments...

I am interested in so many things that my Bucket List is quite long. I jotted the text (excerpt) below on a chat forum the other day, and what became an epiphany overnight is in the word "permission" that I used. Read on...

My life has recently taken a turn I never expected... nor do I know what will come of it, if anything but a bit of my own pleasure. I'm always interested in a slew of things, some of which dominate for a bit and then move to the side until I come back to them.

I've been playing around with charcuterie off and on for about 2 years now (mostly uncured sausages thus far), but it has finally bitten me hard. Some of it may have to do with finally giving myself permission to eat all those things we were told for years were bad for us, but for whatever all the reasons are, I am fully committed to learning (and doing) all I can about meat curing. In this country it really is a lost art.

I have thought long and hard about that statement of permission, since those words backed with little thought just came out of my mouth at that moment in time. The more I have thought about it since then, the more I realize it is true that I have given myself permission to eat all those so-called "bad" things.

Over the last few years there have been an increasing number of Voices saying Fat really isn't bad for us... just some kinds of fat. (Those voices are now being supported over and over by medical research.) The fats that are bad for us are manufactured fats and processed fats, but animal fats have been the ones taking the rap. 

For all I have written over the last 2 years about health and fats, it still has been hard for me to accept fats on some very deep level even though I eat them, cheese and bacon being favorites. I still have a knee-jerk reaction to the fat layer on top of cooled homemade stock or soups... and often start to remove it before thinking. So you can imagine how difficult it has been for me to deliberately grind up a pound of pure pig fat to mix with ground pork or venison for sausages.

Now that I realize I am actually looking forward with great anticipation to making some cured meats for myself, I realize that I have finally (subconsciously) given myself permission! It must be the same for a Vegan who decides to finally eat bacon, LOL.

Photo by JeffreyW

It may still be hard to take the first bite of some of the products I want to make, simply the knee-jerk reaction from years and years of brain-washing against fat. The cured sausage above is a Saucisson Sec, a French dried sausage that's spiced, cured and aged. You can still see the chunks of pork fat in the mix, and it's even more pronounced in some larger cured sausages.

Of course, many things will not induce the same initial aversion. After all, I grew up with country cured hams, fatback, bacon and fresh sausage. I just think I can make better, tastier products than those of my youth, given enough time and the safer cures and techniques available now.

I'm beginning to understand nitrates and nitrates better, and that in very long aging they convert to harmless substances. I have many recipes that do not require them at all, but many of those meats usually require refrigeration or freezing for long-term storage. I'm looking forward to smoking my own bacon... and ham hocks; the ham hocks I have purchased in the stores the last 2-3 years have either been rancid or nasty looking, and the bacon insipid except some of the most expensive.

Certainly I could not afford to buy some of the best imported cured meats, but I can make a delicious alternative now that I have permission!


  1. Great post! You have hit the nail dead center for me. In the last month I have grabbed the bull by the horns and am converting over to Real Food. What I have been struggling with mentally, and maybe even a little bit emotionally too, is accepting and embracing what has been preached against: fats. Last June I started Weight Watchers and my weight loss chart almost mirrors yours. I'm down to 147 pounds from 171. Balancing eating the good fats with real food and not just going overboard with quantity has been something that just hasn't set completely....but I'm getting there. It's the accepting, giving myself permission, to go against the grain.

    Thank you for putting to print my exact feelings. And cured sausage sounds fabulous!

  2. Thanks, Sher. I didn't realize I even had an "underground" struggle until I started trying to figure out exactly why it was so easy to get off this good food protocol and back to the junk.

    I do notice that when I get enough good fats in my meals, satiation comes easily and stays longer.


I'd love to hear what you think about my posts! We all learn together.