Debate Rages Over Porchetta's Gift Of Pork Sandwiches To US Troops In Afghanistan

by Cary Randolph Fuller · February 22, 2010

In the culinary world's biggest pro bono PR of this century (so far), Sara Jenkins, proprietor and chef of Porchetta sent 150 pounds of pork via DHL to feed 300 Marines in Afghanistan. And Grub Street reports that she has Google to thank for that title of "best sandwich". So why are so many people pissed off?

Victory gardens had their last heyday during World War Two, and now food-obsessed patriots have come up with a new way to support our troops. When Major Sergeant Bergmann contacted Jenkins to inquire about her sandwich-making capabilities for his hungry troops, she originally thought it was a joke, but like any good American called upon to serve her country, accepted the challenge. With a task force of altruistic pork and ciabatta roll suppliers, Jenkins and her Porchetta people butchered, cooked, froze, and packed sixteen whole roasts with instructions for preparing once they reached Camp Bastion on the other side of the world. DHL made the delivery. All product and services were donated.

It is hard to find fault with a gift this generous but a quick scroll through the Grub Street article's comment section proves otherwise. In one ring was commenter "ALBUZQIL" who commended Porchetta's tasty snacks but snarked Jenkins' effort as "another culture-blind blunder."

I like Porchetta as much as the next persona, but airlifting pork to a majority Muslim country is culturally insensitive. And justifications about it being to a US base is [sic] precisely the point - it's an extra-operational space that secludes our troops from the culture in which they are working, and reinforces exceptionality.

This statement - the insensitivity of which we'll leave up to you to decide - sparked a wave of more patriotic commenters, hailing Jenkins' efforts to send "those countrymen and women of ours a little bit of home while they are working for all of us." Others railed against ALBUZQIL's P.C. "buzz kill", spurring him to take Jenkins' actions for what they truly were - a phenomenal act of charity.

Eventually Sara Jenkins herself weighed in, fulfilling many an internet commenter's dream of commenting with the commented about the commented. (So meta!) Jenkins explained her intentions:

Two things convinced me it would be ok. It is after all a base which for all intents and purposes is American territory and the other most important reason...was the full support of my Muslim husband and his friends. I really hope this doesn't degenerate into a us versus them discussion or a discussion on the right or wrong of this or any war.

So who's side of the fence do you fall on? We support Sara Jenkins' and Porchetta's efforts to give our troops such an amazing taste of New York and applaud her participation in the Grub Street debate. We also hope this inspires many more restaurateurs to send their own favorites and specialties to soldiers overseas. Who will be next?

[Photos via and, respectively.]