Why Anthony Bourdain Preferred Pork Over Chicken

Pork might not be the most popular meat everywhere, but you couldn't tell that to the late, great chef Anthony Bourdain, who loved pork so much he once called it "his favorite vegetable" during a trip to Madagascar. His love of pork is clear enough when one explores his catalog of shows. He once called Balinese "Babi Guling" or spit-roasted pig, the most succulent pork he had ever tasted. The Philippines' crispy sisig made with pig's head and liver was, to him, "exactly what you need after a few beers." No surprise, then, that Bourdain once urged his fans to pick pork over chicken, which he says should never happen unless there are religious reasons for doing that. 

Bourdain begged to disagree with those who describe pigs as filthy; he pointed out that not only are pigs cleaner than chickens, they are a safer dining option too. Bourdain told the New Yorker way back in 1999, "Chicken — America's favorite food — goes bad quickly ... [and when] handled carelessly, it infects other foods with salmonella; and it bores the hell out of chefs. It occupies its ubiquitous place on menus as an option for customers who can't decide what they want to eat" 

Bourdain's recipes showcased pork's versatility

Bourdain was enthusiastic about pork because it was a versatile ingredient whose taste, he said, would depend on how it was cooked. He called pork "cool," and Bourdain didn't just talk the talk — he sprinkled his cookbooks with pork recipes that put the meat in its best light. In his 2016 book "Appetites," he offers up a recipe for an eastern-style Macau-style Pork, a sandwich made with a pork fillet that had been marinated in a mixture of rice wine, black vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, five-spice powder, and dark brown sugar, inspired by a local pork chop bun. 

For his book "Les Halles," Bourdain offered up a French-style porc au lait recipe, with the pork browned with olive oil before it was cooked in milk, seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and stewed with a bouquet garni, as well as carrot, onion, leek, and garlic. And while Bourdain was not wholly indifferent to chicken ("Everyone should know how to roast a chicken. It's a life lesson that should be taught to small children at school," he once wrote in Bon Appétit), it was pork that most often claimed his affections.