Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Adoration of the Charcuterie (Part I)

I don't know about the rest of you but there's nothing quite like the rush of diving head first into a nice board full of charcuterie.  A well-marbled slice of the soppressata- only slightly greasy to the touch sits next to a thinly sliced piece of imported prosciutto.  You choose the prosciutto.  Gently, you lift the labia-like fold of cured ham to your mouth and savor it's velvety mouthfeel before swallowing.  Truly, a divine Charcuterie experience can be a life changing event.

Technically speaking, Charcuterie is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pates and confit, primarily from pork.  So the above photo is actually a modern day adaptation (or bastardization depending on your level of purism) of a true Charcuterie platter.

Ah...that's better.  Note the lack of extraneous cheeses, breads, crackers or olives directly on the Charcuterie board.  This is true Charcuterie in it's most raw, emotional and natural form.  Cured meats served on a rustic, wooden board.  One might imagine a Sicilian farmer in 1890 returning from a day amongst the olive groves.  His wife lights a candle and pours her husband a glass of home made red wine.  Next, she presents him with Charcuterie.  He looks up from the Charcuterie, takes her hand and smiles lovingly.  It can be a very romantic thing...that is to say...Charcuterie.

The earliest historical reports of Charcuterie's existence date back to the first century AD when the import of salted meat from Gaul found it's way throughout Eurasia.  It may have even been regulated by the Romans who wrote laws regulating the proper production of pork joints.  It's been rumored that Charcuterie was served to Jesus and his apostles at the last supper although it's curious that as a proud Italian, DaVinci would have chosen to omit any visual reference to a Charcuterie platter in his famous fresco of said event.

See?  No Charcuterie...

In regards to the proper amounts and structure of a Charcuterie platter- the line between good and poor taste remains blurred.  The "bigger is better" outlook seldom pays real dividends for a novice Charcuterist who rams his fists into mounds of chemically-colored pepperoni from Wal-Mart.  The real joy in experiencing a true Charcuterie is the individual time spent with each cured meat.  Certainly, one could choke down a mountain of B-grade Capicola, Bresaola and Speck without ever having had a truly singular Charcuterie experience.  When it comes to Charcuterie, quality reigns supreme and the focus of a truly Artisan Charcuterie chef can help to realize a story of sorts told not with words...but with meat.

Like any craft, the creation of Charcuterie is an art form in and of itself.  Despite its seemingly crude rudimentary elements, the construction of fine charcuterie tells the story of a metamorphosis.  As a pupae encases itself in a silken cocoon so it may emerge a lovely monarch; gristle and meat scraps are encased in a rinsed intestine and left to ferment and cure.  The process is a labor-intensive one.  Furthermore, precise temperature and humidity requirements are apt to render the amateur Charcuterist useless in producing a high quality cured meat product.  However when executed correctly, the resulting product can be a work of art en par with the finest of Tiffany Lamps or Faberge Eggs.

At this point in our musings on Charctuerie, we may find it prudent to make brief mention of the recent upswing in the Global Charcuterie Market or as I have deemed it; The Great 21st Century Salumi Boom.  With global demand for Charcuterie on the rise and wide spread vegetarianism on the wane, it seems that the fragile balance of our cured meat ecosystem or "cuemeatcosystem" is in danger of being upset.  Imagine the panic should Chorizo become a scarce commodity.  Or think of the terror caused by the threat of a low yield Mortadella crop.  In many professionals' opinions, there could be drastic consequences suffered by future generations should we fail to properly conserve and secure our Charcuterie interests in the Middle East and beyond. 

But for the purposes of our discussions on Charctuerie in this series, let us focus on the positive roles that cured meats play in all our lives.  Because man cannot live on bread alone.  There must be bread...and Charcuterie.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Alright yo-

Let's face it.  I'm lazy sometimes.  And unmotivated.  And unorganized.  I also have some bad traits that I won't bore you with.  But really these aforementioned are the traits responsible for the fact that my last blog entry was many months ago and was intended to be part one of a recap of the shooting of the infamous "(I'm From) Western Mass" video.  For those of you hanging on the edge of your seats wondering about the second day of shooting that vid- it was awesome.  I mean- goofing around in Northampton with Steven Wright is bound to be a pretty good time in and of itself.  But couple it with an afternoon excursion to the Big E and it falls into my list of "top 10 great days".  Moving on though...

The shows I performed with DJ Hot Mess throughout November and leading up to the New Year's Eve show at the Hu Ke Lau were all great.  Based on the success of the two "Western Mass" videos, I was blessed with an overnight legion of fans many of whom represented at the shows by raging in the front row and sang EVERY word to EVERY song.  There's not much better in life than to put yourself forth creatively and have it resonate with complete strangers to the point where they take an evening out of their lives to attend a performance.  I have to say- I love meeting fans.  And I love it when people ask to have their picture taken with me.  It's a wicked trip.

Anyway- thanks to the fans and SUPER fans thus far.  You know who you are...

One of the questions I'm asked a lot is, "Are you really a Doctor?".  The answer is- sort of.  If having a license to practice medicine makes one a Doctor, then at the moment- no, I'm not a Doctor in the truest sense of the word.  But I was actually a practicing physician before the "incident" in Portland which led to the revocation of my license.  Many of you have asked me for medical advice and for prescriptions.  Those of you who have asked me for prescriptions via Facebook and email need to understand that these traceable social media platforms are presently not a viable forum for me to commit my services to you.  I'm like the fucking A-Team.  If you can find me, maybe I can help you.  So while I am always happy to dispense advice, for the love of God, please stop asking me for weed over the internet.

That's really the only thing I had to get off of my chest.  Oh- wait.  There's one more thing...  No, I will not show up at your cousin's birthday party or office Christmas party and put on a show for free beer.  Thanks for the offer though.  And it would be nice if you'd return my emails seeing as how I was gracious enough to let you down gently.  Another thing we all need to get straight if this relationship is going to grow and prosper- if you wanna book the Doctor, you best have the cash.

Anyway- you want to know what I've been up to lately.  I've been in the studio all winter working on new tracks.  I have six new original tunes and one cover ALMOST finished.  It's been a slower process as I'm really working to refine each track.  I've got a show at Arch. St. tavern in Hartford on March 9th but I don't think I'll have them ready by then.  Most likely for the Bishop's show in Northampton on April 13.  Which new tracks are my favorite?  Thanks for asking.  So far, it's a toss up between, "Fine Bitches" and "Fuck Me Pumps".  At any rate, you can see that thematically- speaking, I've been staying the course and writing about what I know.

Another big chunk of my winter has been spent working on a new "Western Mass" themed music video that has been commissioned by the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitor's Bureau.  This video will be used by the GSCVB to promote restaurants and nightlife around the greater Springfield area.  We are shooting our footage for the video TODAY!  I've somehow managed to secure a limousine and a posse of super hot chicks to ride around with me to help show the world what an amazing place Springfield, MA is to party in.  Pretty excited about this for obvious reasons.

Speaking of which- the limo just pulled up so I gotta jet.  Again, I'll try to be in touch more frequently.  But it's hard when you're as busy as I am with a thriving underground medical practice and hip hop career to deal with. promises.  Until next time know that I'm thinking of you.  Keep it green and stay in touch on the Facebook.