The Secret to Whole Hog Barbecue

Do you want to impress your guests this summer? Attempt to channel your ancient ancestors by slow-cooking a whole hog. No sauces. Just a slow-cooked animal over an open wood fire.


Food thought leader Michael Pollan, who earned a devoted following with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, stopped by Big Think’s studio to share his stories of getting to know the food we hold most sacred. Pollan’s books, like his latest Cooked, take a deeper look at what we eat and where our food comes from. Just in time for summer, Pollan explores the ancient science and art of barbecue in a three-part series.

In this interview clip, Pollan explains how he discovered the purest whole hog barbecue in what is called by its North Carolinian proprietor as “The Vestibule of Hell.”

To hear him tell it, the story sounds like a stop on a food odyssey: “I walk in and we open the door and we're just assaulted by this smoke, this delicious smelling smoke. And inside is a giant fireplace with logs like this. I mean it looks like a giant's fireplace. And the grate is made out of truck axles, that's how big it is. And they're burning down wood to coals and then they're shoveling the coals in these long cinderblock containers that have a grate on top and on top of the grate sit these whole pigs."

Want to know the secret to producing—and yes, it’s quite a production—whole hog barbecue? Watch this clip from Big Think’s interview with Pollan:

Russia sends its first android to space

The Russian-built FEDOR was launched on a mission to help ISS astronauts.

Photos by TASS\TASS via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Russia launched a spacecraft carrying FEDOR, a humanoid robot.
  • Its mission is to help astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
  • Such androids can eventually help with dangerous missions likes spacewalks.
Keep reading Show less

Human extinction! Don't panic; think about it like a philosopher.

Most people think human extinction would be bad. These people aren't philosophers.

Shutterstock
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new opinion piece in The New York Times argues that humanity is so horrible to other forms of life that our extinction wouldn't be all that bad, morally speaking.
  • The author, Dr. Todd May, is a philosopher who is known for advising the writers of The Good Place.
  • The idea of human extinction is a big one, with lots of disagreement on its moral value.
Keep reading Show less

this incredibly rich machinery – with Antonio Damasio

Picking up where we left off a year ago, a conversation about the homeostatic imperative as it plays out in everything from bacteria to pharmaceutical companies—and how the marvelous apparatus of the human mind also gets us into all kinds of trouble.

Think Again Podcasts
  • "Prior to nervous systems: no mind, no consciousness, no intention in the full sense of the term. After nervous systems, gradually we ascend to this possibility of having to this possibility of having minds, having consciousness, and having reasoning that allows us to arrive at some of these very interesting decisions."
  • "We are fragile culturally and socially…but life is fragile to begin with. All that it takes is a little bit of bad luck in the management of those supports, and you're cooked…you can actually be cooked—with global warming!"



Keep reading Show less