A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Iowa: Pork Capital of the World

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 10, 2007

Thanks to my long-suffering friend A’s continued willingness to tolerate my blithe appropriation of his Beirut post office box, I enjoy a steady stream of US magazines, college alumni mailings, and scholarly journals.

They all piled up this fall, when I was in the states, and since returning to Beirut I have been diligently reading my way from August to January. Happily for me this meant that I was able to fast forward through some unappealing trends – super-skinny jeans, for example.

Tucked away in Jeffrey Steingarten’s December Vogue article on transportable gift foods was a delightful surprise: an Iowa connection! And an Owlfish Iowa connection, to boot!

Steingarten lists several artisanal outfits that sell cured and other gourmet meats, including one called La Quercia, about which he says:

The best prosciutto you can find in this country, imported or domestic, is made in … Iowa!

Iowa is the self-proclaimed Pork Capital of the US, and the headquarters of the National Pork Producers’ Council, so its not too far a stretch to imagine that it might produce the best prosciutto as well.

The real surprise came in the sentence that followed:

Herb Eckhouse spent five years figuring out what the best Italian producers do and adopting their methods to create Prosciutto Americano, … which Herb and his wife Kathy have been making and selling for about a year.

Herb Eckhouse? I thought. I know that name! The Eckhouses are old Owlfish family friends!

I remember playing badminton in their yard when I was twelve. And when I spent a long-ago summer in Berkeley, studying Arabic for the first time, Umm Owlfish put me in touch with Kathy Eckhouse’s mother. She invited me to several fantastic dinner parties at her house up in the Berkeley hills, each of which involved delicious food and great rollicking waves of wide-ranging conversation.

My father always says: everyone has an Iowa story. Most of them, of course, only involve driving through Iowa on the way to somewhere else :-). I’m so glad that Vogue‘s Iowa story makes the state a destination.

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3 Responses to “Iowa: Pork Capital of the World”

  1. S. Worthen said

    And they work full time making them too. Last time I was home, Herb gave me a tour around the factory! It’s excellent prosciutto. There are all sorts of famous coastal restaurants now using it too.

  2. intlxpatr said

    Ummmmm. . .. . prosciutto! Another good reason to plan a visit soon!

  3. Well as a non-meat eater I will have to appreciate their products aesthetically 🙂

    I do love that they named their company La Quercia, tieing it in to its Iowa location by naming themselves after the state tree.

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