I’m very fortunate to know a lot of fantastic food writers, people who make it their jobs to bring us great culinary stories. One of those individuals whose work I love, and whom I adore as a person even more, is the Charlotte Observer’s Kathleen Purvis. Kathi is, as my wife’s grandfather would say, “real folk.” She’s someone you want to drink a beer (or 7) with. She’s forgotten more food facts than I’ve ever remembered. And she’s a super writer.
Earlier this week, Kathi wrote about country ham. This is the South’s finest form of charcuterie, and frankly, it’s fading away. The good stuff has been replaced by mass-produced, overly salty, shrink-wrapped crap. But Purvis (and that’s how she introduces herself when she calls on the phone — “Purvis here”) wanted to see how an artisinal country ham maker practices his craft. How to make a ham so beautiful, so utterly delicious, that you would pay big bucks.
And so she’s doing just that, making a ham with Byron Jordan in West Jefferson using only four curing ingredients: “Brown sugar, salt, mountain air and time.” I love that. Read Kathi’s story, which will tell a tale of a country ham, starting last January with a 300 pound heirloom Tamworth pig. Part II is here. See the great pictures and a video, too. This is food journalism at its best.