Given what hot dogs, sausage, scrapple, head cheese etc. are made from (i.e. pork and beef scraps/organs), it shouldn’t surprise anyone that people also eat pig’s feet. In fact, of the exotic/disgusting foods I’ve written about, pig’s feet are by far the easiest to get—practically every supermarket I’ve been to stocks them, usually from the folks at Hormel. So, sure, the idea may sound a little nasty, but enough people must be buying them to result in their near-universal availability. The internet sites I looked at claimed they were more a staple in soul food, traditional U.S. Southern, and Korean cooking, but clearly pig’s feet have found enough fans across the country. Also, since the recent financial crisis, they’ve evidently enjoyed a popularity boom in the
as well. U.K.
Pig’s feet can be prepared in several ways, but the way I had them was pickled in vinegar, prepackaged in a glass jar. I won’t sugarcoat it—they looked pretty repulsive, bobbing about in their briny liquid. Their preparation resulted in them being extremely tender—the meat fell apart easily from the bones. The taste was okay. Obviously it was vinegary, but basically it was similar to other pork cuts. It wasn’t my favorite way to eat pork products, and I don’t think I’ll buy them regularly, but I would be willing to have them again.
I must say, though, that the bones gave me a bit of a pause. From my work as an archaeologist I’ve exhumed many graves, and I was shocked at how similar the toes of a pig are to the toes of a human. Really, the resemblance was uncanny. But I was able to push past this pseudo-cannibalistic tone and finish the pig’s feet.
Also, as a marketing tip, I would advise sellers of this product to stay away from the alternative name, which is “trotters.” At least in the NE U.S. (maybe the entire
? Other places too?), this is unfortunately close to the “trots,” which is a euphemism for a bout of diarrhea. Granted, “pig’s feet” isn’t such an appetizing term either, but in comparison it’s much better. U.S.
One final tidbit. For those who love this type of pork, I would recommend the Hakata Tonton restaurant in NYC. Of the 39 dishes they offer, 33 of them contain pig’s feet.