Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Underground Dinners: A Cautionary Tale

Now I understand why there is sometimes opposition to underground dining. Without any regulations, you never know what you might find.

I recently posted about a pleasant experience with underground dining but I have had a second such experience, and matters were a bit different. First, it was a much more covert meal. In fact, it was tougher to gain entrance to this dinner than it would be to obtain a security pass to enter the White House. What most helped me was an excellent reference from someone who had previously been to this secret dinner. To protect this person's identity, I'll just refer to this friend as JAC.

I had to sign a number of confidentiality agreements to attend this dinner, certainly an oddity, but also very intriguing. There was almost an air of irrational paranoia about this event. I could not take any photos or written notes. I could only memorize the details. I was even told of the dinner's location only an hour before the event, causing me to rush to get there on time.

The dinner was held at a private home, though you had to park down the street so as to not bring much attention to the house. All of the shades were pulled down so you could not see inside. Plus, once we entered the house, the door was securely locked from the inside. Everyone had to be frisked, to ensure that no one had any recording devices. This was also the first dinner I ever attended that had two armed, security guards on the premises. I thought this was all over the top, probably intended to heighten excitement about the dinner.

I was told there would be a Polynesian theme to the dinner, including many unique pork dishes created from the unusual "long pig." I was not familiar with this type of porcine creature but figured they would tell us all about this rare beast. The entire long pig was to be prepared and cooked for us, which is usually said to be from snout to tail. Though the chef actually referred to it as nose to butt. There would be some charcuterie, a roast, ribs, bacon, and much more. The meat would be accompanied by some local, fresh vegetables and potatoes.

JAC had previously tantalized me with details of the meal, mainly how delicious the meat was, so much better than even Kurobuta pork or even Wagyu beef. JAC could not get enough of this meat and now did not miss a single one of these underground dining events. I was supposed to be in for a real treat so I was excited to try this new meat. I was told that my entire life would be transformed by this dinner.

The multicourse meal was quite delicious, the long pig being a part of every course, even dessert. It actually was a strange meat, only vaguely reminiscent of pork. It did not remind me of any other type of meat I have ever eaten. Yet it was compelling in its own right. Each dish was amazingly prepared, as good as any you would find at a high end restaurant. My fellow dining companions ravenously attacked their plates, devouring every dish. Even JAC seemed to salivate just by looking at each course.

But I could not understand the reason for all the secrecy. They actually never explained the origin of the long pig. The only thing that came to mind was that the animal was endangered, and eating it was illegal. That did give me reason to pause, but the meat was so scrumptious it overrode my conscience. I vowed though to learn more once I got home.

When I arrived home, I Googled "long pig" and sat stunned for quite some time. My hands shook as I sat there, my eyes locked onto the screen. It could not have been real, they had to have meant something else. But it certainly explained the reason for the over the top security. I wanted to deny the truth but I knew I could not.

If you get invited to a dinner serving long pig, run the other way.

Long pig is a euphemism for human beings, a term used by cannibals.
April Fool's Day!


Dale Cruse said...

I wonder if JAC could be... nah, couldn't be. ;-)

Pam said...

A very important tale - thank you for the warning! ;)

wine guy said...

Really? Come on, this can't be right.

adele said...

Were they using the cookbook "To Serve Man?"

Anonymous said...

Bravo!! Well written and funny. Happy fool's day.
Dana Zia

Richard Auffrey said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and I am glad people enjoyed this post.

Dale, I think JAC was once voted "Most Likely to Eat Long Pig" by a national foodie group.

Chef Amy Jurist said...

Great Post! i run an underground restaurant in Los Angeles(, and as i was reading i was thinking maybe i should have confidentiality agreements.. maybe i should lock the doors! very funny and well written. Chef Amy

Richard Auffrey said...

Thanks very much Amy. Your own undergound dinners look very interesting. The Bacon Affair certainly is very compelling.