Alinea candy
Year of the golden pig

Nose To Tail Eating Book logoDiagram of pork cuts

I Heart Oinkers

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
February 28, 2007

When I was a kid growing up in Hawaii, my favorite part of grocery shopping with my mother was when we got to the bacon aisle! I never tired of going through pack after pack of Oscar Mayer bacon, searching for the leanest and pinkest of the bunch. One of my greatest joys was cooking and eating bacon by the pack. I was a skinny girl back then and it never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with eating that much bacon.

Another great passion of mine is Portuguese sausage — a Hawaiian specialty. You’ll find on the breakfast menu of any restaurant, diner or fast-food chain: “Portuguese sausage with scrambled eggs and rice.” If you visit Hawaii, you must try it! The Portuguese sausage breakfast platter at McDonald’s is my favorite, with hash brown, of course. It’s so bad for you but it tastes so good. (Are you horrified yet? I don’t ever want to hear anything about how I only eat expensive, high-end, organic foods again!) At the supermarket, you can buy Portuguese sausage either mild or spicy. I prefer spicy, but it’s all good.

We celebrated Chinese New Year on February 18th this year — the beginning of a very auspicious year of the boar! I can’t seem to get the image of the boar, or pig, out of my mind, so in honor of this delicious and adorable animal, I thought it would be fun to talk a little pork this month.

In addition to my own childhood obsession with bacon and Portuguese sausage, I have invited three other oinkers to share their thoughts on all things porky. Megan Woo discusses her inspirations for, chef William Henry talks about some of his favorite pork dishes in New York City and Fergus Henderson, chef owner of St. John restaurant in London shares a recipe from his cookbook, Nose to Tail Eating.

Here’s one of my favorite pork cravings in the City:

Boo dae jun gol (corn beef, sausage, spam, bacon, vegetables & noodles in spicy beef broth) at Cho Dang Gol. My friend Jason and I call this the spam pot! This casserole is a heart attack waiting to happen. It will sufficiently feed four and is absolutely perfect on a cold wintry night.

I wish everyone a very prosperous year and hope that you will continue to enjoy all things piggy! logo

I Heart Oinkers

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
February 28, 2007

An Interview with Megan Woo of

Megan Woo is the pork-obsessed brainchild behind, a blog devoted to her love for bacon, pork and food in general. Megan shares some insights with us on why she started, her hiatus from writing and just how crazy she is about all things porky!


You started IHeartBacon in June 2004? What inspired you to start blogging?

By day I’m a web developer, so my initial foray into the online food world started with “ripe” — a site I created to organize and store my favorite recipes. A few years later, I needed a new system to keep track of dinner parties, and while researching software to handle this I stumbled upon the food blog community. I couldn’t believe there were so many crazies out there; crazies just like me! That realization paved the way for me to start a blog and further my obsession with food.

Is IHeartBacon your first blog? How did you decide on the subject matter? I love the wit behind the concept/site.

Yes, IHeartBacon was my first (and only) blog. I knew I wanted my blog to revolve around food, but I wanted a domain that was more exciting than “” I seriously considered, but IHeartBacon seemed to roll off the tongue better. Once I had the name it was easy to let my pork fixation grow — all in the name of “research” of course.

When did you start loving bacon/pork?

I think a more accurate question might be “When did you start loving food that is bad for you?” I like to tell the story of when I was eight and my mom caught me hiding on the porch — gorging on an entire stick of butter. I’m not sure if it’s my Cantonese heritage, but I really have a weakness for animal fats and salt. Bacon is the perfect vehicle for both, so we’ve been a natural fit ever since I started eating solid foods.

And how has that shaped your life or growth?

Unfortunately, in a horizontal manner. I recently found out that my cholesterol has almost doubled since I started IHeartBacon and my doctor has banned me from bacon, butter and fatty meats. My blog is killing me… quite literally.

So are you really not eating these foods or have you just cut down or modified your diet otherwise?

No, I couldn’t completely give up all those foods, but I’ve really had to cut back. I use “Smart Balance” instead of butter, except for when I’m cooking for friends. And I’ve limited my bacon consumption to only special occasions, like my birthday or vacations. Wah!


Since you started blogging, how has IHeartBacon evolved? And where would you like to take it?

It was an interesting trajectory… at first I was thrilled to meet other people who are as insane about food as I am. Then I got really excited about writing. Then the obsession became about the blog as an entity; visitor stats, gaining recognition in the food blog world and keeping up with the latest and greatest restaurants, food trends, chefs, etc. At some point I lost sight of the fact that I blog because I love food and writing — and that’s when I knew I needed to take a break. It’s been about a year since I stopped updating my blog, but I’m feeling like now is a good time to start again. I just quit my day job so that I can spend more time writing and eating — and now that I’ve had the chance to reflect, I know I want my blog to be more personal — more “food memoir” with a bit of fiction thrown in.

Do people now look to you as a bacon expert? Is that how you’d like to be recognized?

I am (happily) stuck with the bacon stigma. I do not proclaim to be a bacon expert, but most of my friends would say I am. I have had many nicknames, including “Bacon Girl”, “Pork Lady” and “Meglet” (pronounced like “piglet”), but my all-time favorite was when I was referred to as the “Princess of Pork”. My friends and family all get it, but sometimes I wonder if I’ve taken it too far. What would you think about a normal looking girl who always wears a bacon scarf and whips out credit cards from a bacon wallet? If I met me for the first time, I’d think I was weird.

Are there other projects besides IHeartBacon that you are currently working on or will be working on?

Once I started blogging, strange and wonderful things started happening: Saucy asked me to write a monthly column about hosting dinner parties (now defunct, but you can find my articles here), Seattlest contacted me to write weekly food review posts, I started the Well Fed Network with Kate from The Accidental Hedonist (WFN has since been handed over to another party), I was flown down to S.F. to interview as the head of a new food network and I got to meet Jim Leff from Chowhound fame. The funniest thing though was when Jimmy Kimmel Live contacted me to determine just how much I love bacon — and what I was willing to do to prove it. I sent in a tape of me talking about bacon while making bacon tempura, but it turned out they wanted something more along the lines of “nearly-nude wrestling in bacon grease.” I had to pass.

I am hoping that as I get back into blogging, more writing opportunities will come up. I would absolutely love to write restaurant reviews again or do copy writing for a food magazine/column. My main sustenance remains in freelance web development, but even in that field I am hoping to pursue more restaurant and winery clients. I want to gear all my work efforts towards the food industry.


Is bacon your absolute favorite pork product or is “I heart bacon” a euphemism for “I heart anything pork”?

Haha. As I like to say, my site became “IHeartBacon” only because “IHeartPork” sounded a bit too naughty. But bacon and pork belly really are my two favorites. Although I find the most versatile pork product to be the shoulder roast, which is what I cook most often.

What is your favorite pork dish and why?

I love Su Dong Po pork because it’s basically bacon braised in soy sauce. It’s one of the fattiest dishes you could ever eat, but it’s pork heaven and oh-so-tender with a deep pork flavor. I also love good pork rillettes (pork confit blended with fat to form a spread). When I get old and can no longer chew my own food this is what I hope to live on. Lastly, I love any slow-cooked pork shoulder roast — especially when it’s falling off the bone and ready to shred into sandwiches or tacos.

At this very moment, what’s your favorite type/producer of bacon and why?

Hands down, wild boar slab bacon. Why? Because it’s freakin’ delicious. When I eat it I think about those “you can never be too rich or too thin” SKOR commercials; this bacon is walking the edge of being too salty, too sweet, too chewy, too gamey, but there’s something about the combo that thrills me.

Is there a specific producer of wild boar bacon that you like?

The wild boar bacon that I love comes from They’re not technically the producer, but it’s kind of a convoluted path. The whole story is here.

I’ve always loved the concept and lifestyle that The Grateful Palate promotes. You are a big fan. Besides joining the Bacon of the Month club, do you engage in other dialogues with Dan?

I actually have never spoken to or emailed Dan. I keep waiting for him to call me up and offer me some sort of bacon knighthood. I don’t think it will ever happen, but a girl can dream…


What are some inspirations that have helped you develop IHeartBacon?

Well… there’s bacon. And my love for food and writing. That’s all one really needs, right?

Besides pork, can you give me 3 personal cravings?

I crave things like French Dip (a perfectly toasted French roll slathered in butter and strong horseradish, topped with thin slices of slow-roasted prime rib, accompanied by salty, homemade jus) and Vietnamese food, especially pork bun — grilled slices of pork marinated in sweet soy, served over vermicelli rice noodles and fresh veggies with sweet and sour Nuoc Cham. I also love my grandma’s fried chicken, which is marinated in fermented bean curd and garlic. Oh and Totino’s Crisp Crust frozen pizza. Whoa, did I just say that out loud?

What are some inspirations/cravings in life other than food?

I am passionate about reading. I burn through books quicker than SUVs burn through gas. I truly love and appreciate words and, secretly, I’ve always wanted to be a linguist; semantics make me unduly excited. I definitely find inspiration for writing in reading, but I cannot seem to read and write in close proximity. It’s too hard to hold others’ stories in my head while telling my own.

Can you share some thoughts on the year of the pig and if that has any special meaning for you?

I’m bummed that I wasn’t born in the year of the pig. I’m an ox. But I am still very excited for this year — there’s no special significance in this except that I heart pigs. Also I have a gut feeling that this is going to be a good year that will involve a lot of change, and, hopefully, bacon. We’ll see what my doctor says…

Diagram of pork cuts

I Heart Oinkers

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
February 28, 2007

An Interview with chef William Henry, A True Pork Lover

William Henry is the former chef owner of two restaurants in Portland. He is a great lover of the outdoors and insists on using only seasonal, locally-produced, and organic ingredients. But most importantly, he loves pigs! William chats with Cravings about his relationship with the animal and his love for the food.

When you see a pig, what’s the first thought you have?

What part of that little piggy would I like to taste first…. Yummm, the sides (bacon) look great.

When did you start loving bacon/pork? And how has that shaped your life or growth?

My life has really been forever changed by the pig. After raising many sows (that’s a female breeding pig) and boars in high school and at home (and showing them in Fair’s around my home town county in Vancouver, Washington) it’s really some of the first lessons I could apply to adult life today. I’ve owned as many as four sows, one boar and twelve “market” pigs (at on time), delivered as many as thirty-one pigs in one night, castrated, cut, eyes, teeth, tied umbilical cords, given shots, slaughtered, washed and shown (meaning you walk the pigs in a ring and place into corners as according to a judge’s orders) 1000+ pound pigs…. Let’s just say I know a little more than the average person about pigs.

What’s your favorite pork product? Or list all that you love.

Shanks, pork loin, hocks, jowls, tenderloin, bacon, ham, shoulder, head…. Really every part of the pig… but no ribs, at least not with bones in them. Did I say BACON, bacon and smoked bacon?!

Please share some of your favorite pork dishes and explain why you love them?

Choucroute garnie
Braised pork shank

Anything that goes with Riesling and is slow-cooked. Pork deserves a chef’s LOVE, all dishes that must cook for 6++ hours are a labor of love.

What are some of your favorite pork dishes in NYC?

DB Bistro — choucroute royale (Monday nights)
Blue Hill — bacon lardon- amuse-bouche (had seven of them for my birthday desert once for the chef’s tasting)
Rosewater Café — side of smoked bacon (brunch)
Eleven Madison Park — Nicole (former pastry chef) made an almond-bacon crusted “French toast” with a praline of bacon and crispy bacon lardon.

Besides pork, can you give me 3 personal cravings?

3. I have a soft spot for late night meals at “Mas”
2. Oysters or the duck club sandwich at Blue Ribbon Bakery
1. Riesling

At this very moment, what’s your favorite type/producer of bacon and why?

Producer is difficult, I was raised on “small farm” or “home-grown” bacon, so I find that the East Coast isn’t as proud of displaying the farmers name on the menu or store shelves.

Do you have any special feelings about this year being the year of the pig?

Maybe throwing an pork only dinner in the next two weeks? Want me to save you a spot?

Nose To Tail Eating Book Cover

I Heart Oinkers

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
February 28, 2007

Fergus Henderson on The Animal

British chef Fergus Henderson’s Nose to Tail Eating shares the joy of cooking and eating. In his own words, “‘Nose to Tail Eating’ means it would be disingenuous to the animal not to make the most of the whole beast; there is a set of delights, textural and flavoursome, which lie beyond the fillet.”

Though the cookbook is a celebration of much more than just the pig (my favorite section is lamb‘s brains), in thinking about this feature, it immediately came to mind.

When asked what special sentiments he has for the animal, Fergus captures it so eloquently: “The pig is a creature of unlimited joy!” I couldn’t have said it better. But rather than discuss the animal any further, let’s celebrate its greatness by making some crispy pig’s tails, a recipe Fergus has shared with us from Nose to Tail Eating.

Crispy Pigs’ Tails
To serve four

8 long pig’s tails

2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 sticks of celery, chopped

a bundle of fresh herbs

3 bay leaves

10 black peppercorns

1 head of garlic

zest of 1 lemon

1/2 bottle of red wine

1.1 litres chicken of light stock

2 tbsp English mustard

4 eggs, whisked together

450g seasoned flour

225g fine white breadcrumbs

a large knob of butter

On other pages I have sung the praises of how the pig’s snout and belly both have that special lip-sticking quality of fat and flesh merging, but this occurs in no part of the animal as wonderfully as on the tail. You must ask your butcher for long tails.

Place the tails in an oven dish with the vegetables, herbs, peppercorns, garlic, lemon zest, and wine, and cover with the stock. Cover with tinfoil, place in a medium oven, and cook for 3 hours, checking on it so it does not cook too fast; when done you should be able to easily pinch through the flesh. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool in the stock, but remove the tails before it turns to jelly and drain any excess liquid off them (you can refrigerate them at this point).

When they’re cold and firm, mix together the mustard and eggs and have ready three bowls flour, egg and mustard, and breadcrumbs. Dust them with flour, roll them in the egg and mustard mix, and finally coat them in the breadcrumbs so that they are well covered (do this just before you cook, otherwise the crumbs will go soggy).

Get a large ovenproof frying pan or roasting tray hot, add the butter, and when sizzling add the tails and roll them around (watch out, they can and will spit — be very careful). Place in a hot oven for 10 minutes, then turn them over, making sure there is enough butter, and roast for another 10 minutes, keeping an eye on them so they do not burn.

Serve hot with watercress or red mustard salad. Some may like a spot of malt or red wine vinegar on their tails. Encourage the use of fingers and much gnawing of the bone.

Note: The above recipe was excerpted from Nose to Tail Eating, pp. 76—77, courtesy of Fergus Henderson.


Comments (2)


Mar 1, 09:59 AM

Great post!

Jason L.

Mar 1, 12:03 PM

I heartily agree with all the pork products you listed. I would also add Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage to that list (the kind sold in raw paste form in the plastic tubes at supermarkets). Probably about 70% fat by weight before cooking, but I am a little chagrined to admit the spicy version is maybe hands down my all-time favorite sausage product.

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