I went to see the band Belly play the Portsmouth Pyramids Centre when I was thirteen or so. One of the first sort-of dates with the girl who became my wife. I sat along the wall with my mates and smoked through our ten packs of Marlboro Lights, stubbing them out under Adidas Gazelles or Superstars. I was not a fan of Belly. I only went for something to do and the fact that my eventual wife would be there. Belly had recently enlisted a new bassist who everyone seemed to moan about because she was too ‘rock’ and the lead singer was super girly and twee. My memory paints the bassist as looking a bit like a walnut-tanned surfer-chick version of Anneka Rice.
SIDE-NOTE: I just found the ‘Gepetto’ video. My memory was correct and people are still hating on the bassist! Poor woman. Some choice Youtube comments defending her though, ‘Bug’-style:
“Who cares if she’s cut and she knows it? Do you know how rare it was for ‘alternative chicks’ to be into the gym and getting cut back in the day?”– EbayCanSuckIt
“Only fagots and ugly chicks are hating on the bass player. Squats, burpees, and crunches girls! Rock on you sexy biotch!”– kshaft2621
Belly’s new album had got some bad reviews and the venue wasn’t packed out like it had for Radiohead a few weeks earlier or Ned’s Atomic Dustbin after that. (God only knows why I went to see Ned’s, my future-wife wasn’t there and Ned’s sucked fifty tonnes of dross).
Though obviously I was entranced by my date, the lead singer of Belly was, at the time, an indie-boy’s hottie. Tanya Donnelly in the ‘Gepetto’ video was a stunner to boys who wore cords and Adidas retro trainers.
Years later and I find out that the manager of my band, a legend and monster of a man, went out with Tanya Donnelly. My manager! A dude who looked like he would eat the tree instead of feeding it (Awesome Belly reference! This post is obviously only for aging indie-rock fans of a certain vintage). My manager was built of Prada and ironed jeans and yet somehow, he dated Tanya Donnelly! It was weird. Then I would have said it was ‘well’ weird. It was.
Here comes the connector—————————->
Everyone seems a bit bored of pork belly. Once it appears on every single menu, in every terrible gastro-pub, it’s probably time to start wilting samphire or braising goose fingers instead. I’m still a fan of the pig-gut. I dunno about just roasting it, Sunday lunch style anymore though. The idea of sitting in a piggy kitchen on the sabbath, passing carrots and roast potatoes around, has lost it’s allure. Pork buns/bao, or in ramen seems a better of use of it these days. I know all of that is probably played out too, but come on, I live in southern England, when they got fish sauce in ear dropper sized bottles in Waitrose people flipped out. This recipe is pretty good too:
I would probably just roast the belly first, instead of braising it like she says. Braised belly is sometimes a bit flabby and damp I reckon. Also make some crackling! Americans never seem to use it. Take it off the belly, throw some spice or smoked salt on it and hurl it in a hot oven until it’s done. You know when it’s done. Also remember you are making crackling, not chicharrones. They are all crisp and light and nothing else. Crackling with a bit of fat, the odd bit of chew and a bunch of crunch is far more satisfying. If all you want is swine crunch, go eat a packet of Frazzles.
And back to indie-rock of the early to mid 1990s——————–>
That recipe is by Andrea Reusing who runs a restaurant called Lantern in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her menu always sounds lush. She is married to Mac McCaughan who is the lead singer of Superchunk and runs Merge records (Arcade Fire, Dinosaur Jr). Superchunk were awesome. Around the same time I was into Tanya Donnelly I used to record MTV’s ‘120 Minutes’ on VHS. I had tapes filled with Nirvana, Sebadoh and this Superchunk video; “The First Part’. I watched it over and over again until the tracking got wrecked.
In the vernacular of the time: Superchunk and Andrea Reusing’s pork belly recipe are well cool.
Also good with this pork belly is a Thai roasted mushroom salad. I’ll put up the recipe later.