The Useful Pig Roberta Wolfe Smoler (HarperCollins, $22.95) No one but the pig lobby would call pork a health food, but American hogs have been getting progressively leaner for the past half century, while beef cattle until very recently have been made fatter and fatter. So maybe it’s time for this long- maligned flesh food to make a comeback. If anything can update its image, it’s Roberta Wolfe Smoler’s repertoire of pork and fixin’s in The Useful Pig. Her unstinting recipes combine pork with other proteins (beans, yes, but also veal, rabbit, fish, shrimp, clams, or chicken liver) and dress it up with a cosmopolitan pantry’s worth of flavors: Thai fish sauce, Mexican green tomatoes, preserved lemons, shiitake mushrooms, and the like. Even her simplest pork-and-bean dishes have some essential extra — such as chopped fresh mint leaves — added at the end. All of which might not get the pig back into the parlor but could restore its status in the dining room. B
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