Pork Jowels with Polenta at Parkside
At first smell: it’s as if apple pie had a one night stand with Wilbur
At first bite: Wilbur has been one lazy porker, sunning and snacking on Fern’s corn
The pork is soft, as it should be. Not ropey, not spreadable. Appropriate. The accompanying molehill of polenta lacks seasoning, but the sauce is vibrant—a dinner companion of a sauce, one you’d imagine is comfortable asking for a table of one, reading a book, smiling at the people who shoot glances of “party for one” pity. It stands on its own with wisdom, technique and a sense of history.
The meat feathers, like an outstretched wing. All the flavor is in the glossy wine sauce, a reduction of veal and chicken stock, mirepoix, thyme, fete (a Moroccan spice?), and to my surprise, chardonnay.
The polenta is a good ole country girl with farm values, who can drink the milk from a cob of corn, milking everything for what it’s worth. Appropriately toothsome—each grain easily separated, garnished with celery leaves.
No one likes to talk about it, but there’s something to be said for fat. It’s round. It’s soft, it’s basically the womb. And it’s safe to say, it’s comfort. This dish tastes like the kind of home you see in happy cartoons with red barns and roosters. It’s home, not mine, not yours, but a universal home built around the communal table, where people gather, hold hands, bow heads in prayer, and recite blessings, not rote, but gloriously sung out in praise of the bounty.