THE RED PIG ASIAN KITCHEN
by Joseph Suglia
I have no idea if porcivore is a word, but it should be. Porcus is Latin for “pig.” And therefore a porcivore would be a “pig-eater” such as the person who I now am but once was not.
Uncooked pork is spongy, fatty, pinkish, and revolting. For these reasons, I resolved to no longer eat pork in the year of grace 2011. I’m surprised that I hadn’t made my resolution earlier. Lamb seemed leaner and more toothsome than pork, and I ate a great deal of lamb and deer in 2011 and 2012. Chicken, too. I don’t know how anyone could dislike sweet chicken flesh and imagine that its moist tenderness tempts even the hardest-hearted vegan. For about two years, I abstained from the meat that comes from our porcine cousins.
Now that I am giving my business to the Red Pig Asian Kitchen, I have returned to my porcivorous self. With one qualification: The pig meat that I devour must be nuked into an unrecognizable whiteness. I now have no qualms about eating any pig, on the proviso that it is irradiated and immersed in a lagoon of soy sauce. The shanks of razorbacks and jungle boars will fill my plates and my mouth. I will even consume a White-Lipped Peccary, if one is placed before me, as long as it is pervasively irradiated.
My favorite restaurant meal is now a plate of red-skinned pork in a forest of fried rice and kimchi, accompanied by a pot of Thai Iced Tea. This is the meal that awaits me every week at the Red Pig Asian Kitchen.
If I have one criticism of the RPAK, it is that it lacks the Heideggerean Geworfenheit of the ramshackle eateries in Chinatown. Of course, this is Thai food, not Chinese food, but I’m not sure if that makes a significant difference. The space in which you eat is more important than the food you ingest–food is only food, after all, pure nutriment. And this space lacks the sliminess and sleaziness of Old Chinatown’s louche troughs.
Though the restaurant is pig-themed from the outside, there is very little porcine imagery within. The kitchen is modestly hidden behind a Japanese curtain. The curtain is brown and covered with egg-shaped robot figures. Hanging on one of the walls is a steel apparatus made of nine steel bells. There are twelve-feet-high glass panels. Artificial bamboo trees sprouting out of a box. A silently subtitled LED television screen. Concaving wooden walls. Porcelain teaware and glassware neatly placed on shelves near the counter. Really, the interior is austere and anti-decorative. It is internationally corporate, if anything. There is nothing peculiarly Thai about the space.
It is easy to imagine all of the pig pieces that are stocked and stacked in the kitchen reassembling themselves into a red-scaled pig monster. If Neil Jordan directed The Company of Pigs, he would film it here.
Dr. Joseph Suglia