Blackcurrant Coppa

Blackcurrant Coppa

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    “What can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.”

    Ludwig Wittgenstein

    One can interpret the sum of human experience in all cultures and civilizations as an attempt of effing the ineffable. Even when these attempts lead to complete surrender in the admission that our linguistic capacities are too poor to express often most basic feelings and modes of existence, we are forced to create makeshift terms and names for unnamable.  Love, Dao, God – all examples of such approach.

    There is also a certain feeling that comes from an encounter with a smell or taste of something from deep and often well-berried past. This feeling affects both body and soul; your hands start trembling and psyche’s meter of either pleasure or pain goes beyond measure.

    For me, blackcurrant evokes this reaction.  Back in Ukraine, we had a rather large bush of blackcurrants next to a wale that we shared with our neighbor.  Its leaves became tea; barriers – jams. And, of course, there were infusions on horilka (Ukrainian for vodka, more-or-less) that my father kept in cellar far from the reach of my step-mother who didn’t approve the use out of her religious convictions.

    At the first sign of cough or cold, the jam was mixed with boiling water and given as a medicine. When you came home with clothes wet-frozen from either emerging from an ice-hole or day-long skating on skis\sledge (at the end of the day the results were pretty much the same),  that’s the second thing you get, the first being your father’s belt.  Then you might even have a shot of that blackcurrant infusion…

    Pity – all my friends who tried to grow blackcurrants in Oklahoma, failed. This year I’m finally trying myself. Technically it can grow here, but it’s a real challenge to find a place that provides enough son without killing the plant in August when Oklahoma turns into the free Preparation for Purgatory course.

    Hence, for now, I have to rely on mass-produced blackberry jams. Their potency is far, far from what I remember from my childhood. Yet, one must use what one has; such is life. So far, I’ve found only one product that smells and tastes like what I had as a kid in the Old Country: Mathilde Cassis Blackcurrant Liqueur.  As a result, I made this Blackcurrant Coppa.

    The process started on 2/21/19, ended on 7/12/19.

    Two pork necks, cut out of Boston Butts.

    2.5% sea salt

    0.25 cure#2

    0.25% Sichuan paper

    0.3% sugar

    0.2% dried fermented red peppers (a byproduct of producing fermented hot sauce)

    Mathilde Cassis Blackcurrant Liqueur – as much as needed.

    Vacuum; fridge until 3/15/19. Almost one month, I know. But – why not?

    Then – washed, dried, and sent to the “curing chamber” until 7/12/19.  Weight loss – only 41%.

    The coppas have a slight taste of “smokiness”  from blackcurrant and a bit of dark spiciness and numbness. Nothing extraordinary, but worth repeating. Yet, it mystically or magically for a moment transforms this particular time and space into the past; that’s – both ineffable in the description and priceless.

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