For the past three years, I've been judging Baconfest, a day-long celebration of the pig's tasty belly. Started in Chicago in 2009 by my friend Seth Zurer, thousands of tickets sell out in hours and Baconfest is now branching out to Washington DC and San Francisco. Since its inception, Baconfest has donated $130,000 – and a huge quantity of donated food – to the Chicago Food Depository.
Can there be any conceivable justification for this aesthetically offensive and clearly unhygienic practice? I'm not saying finger-lickers should be banned from restaurants or have their offending tongues and fingers cut off. That would, perhaps, be going too far. But somebody has to bring it to the attention of these slack-jawed knuckleheads that their behavior does not please me.
Outside Siena is Spannochia, a farm that, among other things, raises Cinta Senese pigs, so called because they have a white "belt" (in Italian, cintura) around their mid-section, and they come from around Siena (thus Senese).
I've just a few distinct taste memories from when I was in single digits, and one of those increasingly foggy recollections is most definitely of the olive oil my Genovese granny would sprinkle on bread, eggs and pizza (she called it "pizza," but it was more like what we'd call "foccacia").
Italians have taught me a lot about eating and eating this breakfast reaffirmed the principle that good taste is obviously important but good people at the table are just as important to the enjoyment of the meal.