Urban Roast Beast and this Kale-head

My recent assignment for the Fall Issue of Edible Boston included a trip to brookline, near Coolidge Corner, to a backyard pig roast. An annual tradition among some post-grads and neighbors, gathering around the smoke just melting inside for the tender cuts of swine dripping over the open flame. 

 Planting the Red Flower - Photo by Joseph Ferraro for Edible Boston, Fall 2017.

Planting the Red Flower - Photo by Joseph Ferraro for Edible Boston, Fall 2017.

Here's an excerpt from the Edible story, written by Rayna Jhaveri:

Why a pig roast? “I enjoy the spectacle of the pig. Also, it’s not something I’d ever do by myself,” he quips. As an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, he’d attended a few pig roasts as part of their annual Spring Fling. Now a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, he wanted to bring together many of the international students he met there.

“Many cultures roast lamb and goat,” he explains, “but I felt pig was particularly American.” Since his is a potluck event, he also enjoys seeing what others bring. “Once, someone brought 12 boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese,” he laughs.

This year’s motley spread is more “get ’er done” than gourmet: two pasta salads, veggie sticks with hummus, roast potatoes, olive dips and taralli—Italian wine crackers—made by Seven Hills Farmstead, a local food business run by Harper’s friend Giulio Caperchi and his wife, Carol. S’mores cookies and two kinds of brownies make up the dessert section.

“We also make sure there’s stuff like veggie burgers, Brussels sprouts or corn," Harper says—Halimah, his fiancée, is vegetarian. My contribution is a Thai-style coleslaw, which went over well enough for me to make a few new friends. Food is a wonderful connector.

Now, too be honest with you, this would've been my jam just a few years ago before dedicating myself to vegetarianism. For 32 years of my life, I ate meat. And, I enjoyed it, immensely. I enjoyed the process of cooking it, marinating or seasoning it, grilling, broiling, slow roasting, barbecue, and of course the eating of (nearly raw) animal flesh - I liked my steaks closer to red then pink.

But, the winter of 2014/15 I made life change - for my health, my family's health (my wife is already vegetarian and we raise our daughter to be one, too), and for economic and reasons surrounding the controversial methods of mass-food production in the US. But, I always vowed that if it's done well, and meat is reaching your plate responsibly, than I support it and won't preach to you about joining me and my kale salad.

As a photographer, though, I understand my role is to tell stories and to do that well I try not to let my own beliefs cloud my judgement or prevent me from getting close to my subjects. Of course, there are places where I draw the line, but the almost-politically charged topic of food is rich with passion among all eaters - no matter how informed someone may be on the subject - people love their food. And, me being vegetarian for a few years now wasn't going to hold me back from creating photos that fairly depicted the scene and told the story as I experienced it...

A fun gathering of friends and neighbors, enjoying a generous meal, sourced locally from an organic farm here in Massachusetts and cooked for the group by a couple of close friends.

Kale, beef, pig, quinoa, turducken, paleo, vegan, I don't care who you are, food is what binds human kind together long enough to respect one another no matter your beliefs.

- JF