Cook­ing show that goes the whole hog

Sunday Tribune - - LOCAL -

RE­MEM­BER Triple D, the food net­work show also known as Din­ers, Drive-ins and Dives? Of course you do. It’s prob­a­bly the best television food show avail­able. Trust me. I’m a re­viewer. Stay­ing with the trust, let me tell you about a show that’s pretty close in con­tent and qual­ity to Triple D. This is Man Fire

Food, which sounds like the words you find on a tra­di­tional tat­too. Pre­sented by the ex­traor­di­nar­ily per­son­able Roger Mook­ing, which in it­self is a name to con­jure with, Man Fire Food in­volves Mook­ing trav­el­ling the US, sam­pling and com­ment­ing on the pow­er­ful in­ter­ac­tions between re­gional cuisines and raw fire. It’s one hell of a show.

Amer­ica – and you can quote me – is a huge coun­try. Not only that, but thanks to gen­er­a­tions of im­mi­grants, some vol­un­tary, oth­ers not, the food is as var­ied as the na­tional DNA. The episode that grabbed me by that part of my brain linked di­rectly to my taste buds be­gan with a meet­ing between Mook­ing and his host, the smoke­house masterchef who runs Scotts Pit Cook. This ex­tra­or­di­nary place is found in Hem­ing­way, South Carolina, and cooks whole pigs up to 28 at a time.

The sta­tis­tics are un­be­liev­able, but com­pletely true. In Hem­ing­way, pigs are called hogs, a two-letter change that car­ries with it a lex­i­cal uni­verse of mean­ing. Now Scotts, from the out­side any­way, is just an­other cor­ner store, in a down­beat part of a down­beat town. But once you get in­side – with the gen­er­ous com­pany of Mook­ing – the most ex­tra­or­di­nary in­dus­try is re­vealed. We start in the back­yard. There home­made and home­welded ovens slowly burn lo­cal hard­woods such as hick­ory, oak and pecan. The coals that re­sult from this com­bus­tion are car­ried in long han­dled fire spades into the smoke house, where gi­ant braais hold the head­less ver­ti­cally split car­casses of hogs. These are basted in a se­cret sauce, just one of the se­cret sauces that anoint the slow cooked hogs. Then, say 12 hours later, the pig meat is picked off the bones and served to an ador­ing au­di­ence who just can’t get enough of the stuff.

But wait, there’s more!

Stay­ing with Mook­ing we hit an oys­ter roast in the Low Coun­try of South Carolina. Suf­fi­cient to say there’s a stain­less steel highly fin­ished oys­ter roast­ing de­vice than runs on real fire. Oys­ters are shov­elled onto the mas­sive hot­plate, 15 min­utes elapses and scores of din­ers each wield their per­sonal oys­teropen­ing knives fall on the daz­zling moun­tain of steam­ing oys­ters.

Fi­nally, I need to share my feel­ings about Jes­sica Jones’s mom. Sadly, and when I say sadly I mean sadly, Jes­sica’s mother is a to­tal mon­ster, the (yawn) tragic vic­tim of (yawn) the same nut­case doc­tor who fried Jes­sica her­self. In the case of Jes­sica, the Marvel su­per­pow­ers she ob­tained al­low her to op­er­ate in the nor­mal world as a par­tially suc­cess­ful pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor and to­tally suc­cess­ful full-time booze hound. And oh yes, she’s a kinda role model in the Marvel uni­verse.

But her mom! What a hor­ri­ble mess she’s made of the fi­nal episodes of Jes­sica Jones Se­ries 2, stream­ing on Net­flix. Bald but wigged, she is a mur­der­ous loony and has suc­cess­fully hi­jacked the en­tire show. Mod­er­a­tion? Gone. Com­plex­ity of nar­ra­tive? Down the tube. I have no idea how se­ries 3 (if it ever hap­pens) will pull it­self out of this long drop of… Oh well, dear reader, feel free to write the last word your­self.

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