Posts tagged "Sebastian Agudelo"

Porkapalooza Redux


When Pig Candy came out last May, of course John roasted a pig for me…and 150 of our closest 6th Borough buds. To further celebrate the book’s release, our poet/chef friend Sebastian (author of To the Bone) made collards, my mom’s neighbor Jim made strawberry shortcake, and our favorite restaurant in the City of Brotherly Love, Pumpkin, donated killer coleslaw and even more killer cornbread.

Eileen Marolla was at that pig party and couldn’t get the meal out of her mind. A full year later, she was still obsessed, and so for her birthday a week ago, she recreated the whole shebang. Start to finish. Exactly. She even got John to roast a pig for her. She got Jim, who she didn’t know, to make a cake. She got Ian, Pumpkin’s chef and also a stranger, to make slaw and cornbread (see recipe, way way way down below on this page). It was a little eerie to have the same meal show up on the other side of town, in the chicken shed of the weekend getaway of Brian and Ernie, but a lot delicious.

Here’s a video peek into how the Caja China works from the day of Eileen’s party. And — coming soon — are photos from the night before of the pig being butchered on our kitchen counter by John and Sebastian (not recommended for the squeamish or for dues-paying PETA members).

Pumpkin Restaurant Corn Bread

Based on a Recipe by Chef Ian Moroney

Serves between 12-24 depending on the size of the piece, using a half-sheet tray (an 18 x 13 half sheet with low sides)

6 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
2 cups corn oil
1/2 cup whole milk
1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup corn meal
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Whip eggs and sugar until mixture triples in volume.
Slowly whisk in oil, then milk.
Fold in dry ingredients.
Bake on greased half sheet at 350° for about 25 minutes.
Wait to cool before cutting.

Pumpkin Restaurant
1713 South St Philadelphia, PA 19146 – (215) 545-4448
Open Tue-Thu 6pm-10pm; Fri-Sun 5:30pm-10pm


As you’ll see on this blog, a recurring theme in my writing is food, glorious food. Certainly my latest book, Pig Candy, enlists food in its storytelling, but food as metaphor and subject also comes up in an essay about love; in a profile of chef Marcus Samuelsson; in the celebration of artisanal cidermaking; and as a central factor in a bittersweet essay about the search for family ties.

When I moved home to Philadelphia in 1996, after 18 years away, I lucked into buying a house two doors down from Claudia Raab, a talented, curious cook. She made a welcome dinner of fresh corn tamales, and at that instant, I didn’t feel so bad about having left Brooklyn behind.

Then I met my husband, John Howard, who is just as talented and curious. When we started dating, he was making artisanal hard cider — one of our first weekend getaways was Cider Day, an annual fall pleasure in western Massachusetts. Then Claudia (instantly approving of my choice in men) bought him a smoker at a yard sale for 25 bucks — he began to make smoked bacon by the slab. One batch used an apple syrup boiled down from the juice he bought at Clarkdale Farms, a family-run orchard that plays a big role in Cider Day. With all the apples around, John perfected his tarte tatine.

Claudia never runs short on grand schemes, and she pulled strings with her connections in the region’s Mennonite farming community to secure us a pig. Enter sausage-making, pancetta-making, and prosciutto-making. Enter preliminary discussions of building a smokehouse and curing room (when the guest room, used in the interim, started to smell a little too meaty). Also, enter Sebastian Agudelo, a poet and literature professor who actually was a professional chef for a while, but now just stuns his friends and neighbors with fine dining at home. I may be John’s lifemate, but Sebastian is his sausage soulmate.

More on food to come.