I don’t eat pork. But sometimes, when situations call for it, I break this rule and get my share of swine sustenance every now and then.
I was really young when my mom converted to a certain religion that bans pork diet. Years later, even when mama stopped going to church, we still don’t eat pork at home.
Visiting friends’ houses when I was younger was particularly stressful. Upon learning that I couldn’t eat kare-kare or crispy pata, my friends’ parents would quickly concoct a no-pork meal that usually involved Ligo sardines or Argentina corned beef. I never had bacon, isaw or sisig until much later in life.
I used to be very strict about this rule not because I was scared I would go to hell but because I was used to it. No ham, no lechon. The turning point, however, was during an event for a school club or an “org” as how we would call it back in college. It was an initiation of sorts where new members had to go through challenges before being officially inducted as an org member.
B, a member of the org and a friend I met through blogging, asked me if I had any diet restrictions. I told him I don’t eat pork for religious reasons. He said okay, he would take note of it. He also mentioned in passing that this no-pork rule does not go by Karl Marx’s dialectic materialism. To B, there was no material or objective basis for my diet preference; religion or biblical verses did not count as a concrete, rational justification to not eat pork.
I was 18 at that time. I don’t remember the first pork meal that I ate, but after that conversation with B, I started eating pork whenever there’s no other option. I tell my friends to not cook a special meal for me, to tell their parents that it’s okay—baboy lang ‘yan. Except for the sisig cooked by EJ’s mother, I never really found any pork dish to be particularly delicious. I believe even Tita’s sisig could still be as delicious if made with beef instead.
But just this Tuesday, after a two-hour photo walk around Rundle Park, my friend E and I went to Shanghai 456, a Chinese restaurant here in Edmonton. I wanted to try their xiao long bao, a pork steamed bun that’s supposedly the best in the city. And true enough, it was probably the only meal made with pork that I would be willing to eat again. I also tried the beef dumpling but did not like it as much as the pork one.
Still, I don’t think I can ever be a regular pork eater. It’s a preference that may have started because of pious devotion, but I choose to stick with it because it is arguably the healthier option. It’s a step closer to my goal of becoming full vegetarian, one meat at a time.