Pork Chops(Wikipedia)
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This Week in Trayf News

A battle over swine semantics gets deadly

Adam Chandler
September 13, 2012
Pork Chops(Wikipedia)

The New York Daily News (unsurprisingly) picked up this story out of St. Louis.

John Cunningham, 43, was having a heated discussion early Monday with his maternal uncle, Lessie Lowe, 44, about the pork they were planning to cook, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday.

The imbroglio stemmed from Cunningham calling the meat “pork steaks,” while Lowe referred to them as “pork chops,” the newspaper said.

From there, the two had to be separated by another person in the home before Cunningham allegedly grabbed a shotgun and fired at Lowe, police said.

This is, obviously, a very dark story, but what followed in the press account was also pretty macabre. From the Post-Dispatch:

Lowe died later at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Cunningham, who was correct about the meat, was taken into custody.

Beyond the irony that the victim was brought to a Jewish hospital, the fact that the winner in the debate about the cut of pork was determined is also slightly insane. The Riverfront Times, took it one step further and called an expert on pork named Joe LeGrand to explain the issue. Here’s how the issue was summed up:

A pork steak is cut from the pig’s shoulder (which is also confusingly known as a “pork butt,” because it apparently used to be shipped in barrels called “butts”). In a cow, the analogous cut would be chuck roast.

A pork chop, however, is cut from the back loin. In a cow, the analogous cut would be T-bone.

“People tend to overcook pork,” LeGrand says. But pork steaks contain more fat and take longer, so they tend to turn out better for most folks (because people accidentally cook them correctly).

So whether you’re grilling or arguing with a family member, the concept is the same: Do not overheat.


Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.