About a year ago, the Food and Drug Administration approved a drug that gives pig farmers another way to control boar taint. Taint is a characteristic odor that develops in pork when male pigs become sexually mature. As an alternative to castrating the animals, Pfizer introduced a protein that could be injected. It suppresses the testicular function by causing a pig’s immune system to reduce levels of the two hormones responsible for the flavor: androstenone and skatole.
Impovest is not without its drawbacks. The company warns, “Accidental self injection could negatively affect reproductive physiology of both men and women.” In an apparent effort to underscore the safety of the resulting pork products—and to tout an inexpensive offal that would be made even more available by their product—they introduced a 2011 cookbook titled Recipe Book: Food Service Uses for Pork By-Products.
Corporate cookbooks have long celebrated the Chiquita banana and Shredded Wheat. They still occupy a unique place in the kitchen—and, as Pfizer’s cookbook suggest, the books exhibit corporate America’s attempt to establish societal norms. “These artifacts do tell a story,” said Deanna Pucciarelli of Ball State University, one of the cookbook’s co-authors, at a recent Cookbook Conference. “Perhaps because they are constructed simultaneously as propaganda while providing instruction, their stories are even more intriguing to me.”
The fact that there’s so little remarkable about the testicle taco (“Nestled inside corn tortillas, testicle and pork shoulder ground meat proved the perfect bed upon which to layer the remaining traditional taco fillings”) is what makes the drug company’s cookbook so remarkable.