The pork chops I grew up onand yes, I love you, Mom, but if you're honest you'll admit it's truewere dry and brittle as tree bark but not as tasty.
Mom wasn't really to blame: The actual culprits were the industrial farmers who bred pigs so lean the natural juices in the meat were all but gone, and the health experts whose dark warnings about trichinosis scared her into cooking that meat, and cooking it, until it gave up all hope and surrendered. And in those days, of course, we all knew that a drop of pork fat would kill you faster than a cigarette with an asbestos filter.
Today, the disciples of Dr. Atkins wage war on their love handles with towering breakfasts of sausage and bacon. Trichinosis is about as much a threat as a plague of frogs, and as a result restaurants now serve chops that are daringly, deliciously pink inside. Most supermarket pork is still a dismal prospect, but purveyors like Whole Foods and many small farmers can hook you up with meat from hogs that were bred and raised for maximum flavor (nichepork.org provides a listing). As for lard, these days it sounds as healthy as wheat grass, compared to the margarine that I grew up on.