Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Purple Pig: Bone Marrow Anyone?

Last week, my friend Sara and I took an impromptu visit to a relatively new restaurant on Michigan Avenue called The Purple Pig. As the restaurant name suggests, we ate cheese (a nice Camembert), swine (in the form of a pork blade steak that we were delighted to find tasted like bacon) and wine (a key upside of this place is they have many good wine bottle options for under $40).

Overall, the place was good. Very convenient location for us (just steps from work), the inside is cute and they have an outdoor patio. Service was good, wine options great, food about what you would expect for this sort of place with lots of fatty foods, fried foods, and just generally unhealthy though upscale and tasty fare.

Besides spending quality time with my dear friend, Sara, which is always filled with laughing at the state of the world and the state of our lives in particular, we also had the opportunity to try something very unique: pig bone marrow. It was delivered to us as pictured below and we basically ate the marrow out of the bone with a tiny fork. (As Sara wittingly put it, this was my first bone marrow biopsy!) It was served w/ crostinis, capers, onions and cilantro. The best way I can describe the marrow is soft and rich. Sort of like butter or aioli, but completely flavorless. Hence all the sides served with it. People tell me it's supposed to be a spread- a butter substitute- but the way I see it, if I'm going to eat a fork-full of fat, I'd rather it just be butter. Butter>marrow, I guess is what I'm saying. But I'm always up for a new experience. (If you find yourself talking to some hipster who thinks bone marrow is "great", they probably are just trying to be cool, because I'm telling you, it's flavorless.)

So, what are the benefits (if any) of eating bone marrow instead of butter or mayo? Well, I was curious myself and here are some key lessons I learned about the nutritional benefits of bone marrow:

--Three and a half ounces of bone marrow contains 488 calories, 51 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein.

--Native American hunters back in the day would eat bison bone marrow because it is so rich in fats and calories. Fat and calories for early Native Americans=good. Fat and calories for modern humans=BAD.

--Some researchers think the fats in bone marrow were key in the brain development that helped us evolve into homo sapiens.

--One very "pro-eating bone marrow site" (who knew there would be such a thing?) claimed that bone marrow helps maintain a "healthy" (though I read this as "high") cholesterol level and acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic agent. I'm dubious.

--One man wrote on his blog that he tends "to rely on marrow as my main source of fat - I also get fat in the form of raw suet, raw tongue or raw brain, and occasionally raw eggs (it's a good idea not to overdo raw egg consumption) - but raw brain is very difficult to get hold of in my country, and, while I don't mind it as such, raw suet just doesn't compare in taste to marrow.". Hmm...I can't add much to that, except to explain what the heck raw suet is: it is beef or mutton fat, "especially the hard fat found around the loins and kidneys" according to Wikipedia.

If you'd like to learn more about eating bone marrow, I'd recommend a blog I came across called Adam's Daily Apple: Primal Living in the Modern World. At the very least, it is entertaining!

Sara enjoying our bottle of wine in the sun!

1 comment:

  1. Um, gross. I think I'll be skipping marrow as part of my meal! Wine and friends, on the other hand, sounds lovely.

    p.s. I feed raw suet to the birds outside in winter.