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Eat the pig! Particularly at the Berkshire!

Seriously, people?  You're getting weird about eating pork now?

I understand that all this talk about the swine flu is freaky. I realize that we're kinda on the edge of a panic now, and that the Centers for Disease Control have just announced that a worldwide pandemic is imminent. I get that we might all be dead in the next week or so.

But isn't that just a damn good reason to eat more pork?  More bacon and more pork chops and more pancetta and prosciutto and ribs and pulled pork and trotters and pork loin? Because fact is, you cannot catch swine flu from a pig.

Don't believe me?  That's smart.  I wouldn't take medical advice from me, either.  But let's see if this convinces you:

"Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products.

That's straight from the CDC website. Eating of the pig ain't gonna give you swine flu, simple as that. 

And yet, yesterday I talked with Woodie Thomas, chef over at The Berkshire Restaurant (7352 East 29th Avenue, in Stapleton), Our Best All-Pork Menu in the Best of Denver 2009, he told me that, for the first time since that entirely pig-centric restaurant opened almost two years ago, he had no lunch business.  None.  Nada.

"Lunch dropped off completely," he said. "And that's the first time since...  I don't even know when."

Now granted, this could have been because everyone in the nation was out at Target stocking up on tubs of hand sanitizer and surgical masks, canned food and shotguns. It could have been because everyone was glued to their televisions watching Sanjay Gupta lose his shit on CNN.  Or maybe it was because everyone is just terribly misinformed.

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"People have been asking," Thomas replied when I asked him whether he'd had any conversations with his customers about the safety of eating pork.  "Everyone is definitely very concerned about it."

And once again, what's Thomas (and the rest of the staff at The Berkshire) been saying? That it's safe to eat pork. That it's good to eat pork. That there's maybe no better time to eat all the pork you want than when the World Health Organization is on TV talking about global pandemics posing dire threats to all of humanity.

Me?  If I'm gonna go down, I'm gonna go down with a fork in hand and bacon on my breath. And I'm pretty sure that Thomas and his crew at the Berkshire are going to go the same way. (It was love at first bite when I reviewed The Berkshire last November.)

And the Berkshire's first pig roast, set for tomorrow, is still on. But even Thomas had to admit that he was glad the pig he just got in came from Kentucky, not Mexico. The fun begins at 4 p.m. May 1; pig and sides cost $18. And if all goes well, this will be the first in a regular monthly series. For details, call 303-321-4010.

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