It started when I was about 13, when a teacher at school told us about worms in pork. I didn't really like pork that much before this pronouncement, so it didn't take much to put me over the edge. My experience of pork was pork chops, and roast loin of pork. Both gave dryish squeaky meat, which was the sort that would stay in my mouth long after the flavour had been chewed out. That's not a reflection of my Mum's cooking, she's a really good cook, it was just a reflection of the reality of loin of pork.
I couldn't bear the taste or smell or pork cooking, I couldn't even cook it for my husband. When I was 40, I started a long journey of revisiting foods I'd hated since childhood. I had a lot of successes (spinach, watercress soup, kale, Brussels sprouts, for example), and I had some resounding failures (liver still makes me throw up, for example). I tried making Jamie Oliver's slow roasted shoulder of pork, and the result was amazing. Love that, really love it. I moved on to belly pork, crackling... but I still couldn't stomach even the smell of loin of pork roasting, or pork chops.
We started having a half pig from our friend Shirley, which meant my journey continued. DH would cut chops for himself, but the rest of the loin was always diced. I could cope with loin of pork as long as it was cooked until very soft in some sort of sauce. We eat a lot of curried pork, chilli pork, and so on.
The other day, DH wanted to cook some loin steaks in the sous vide, and I agreed to try them - as long as there was an accompanying sauce. He beavered away, and all was well until he had to flash fry the steaks to colour them at the end. That smell.... oh god, that awful smell.
What if this put my years of effort - learning to eat pork without heaving - in jeopardy?
He'd worked really hard on it all. I cut a teeny tiny piece of pork, and stared at it. I pushed it off my fork and ate a chip. Then another chip. I couldn't avoid it any more, so I smothered the tiny piece of meat in a large dollop of mustard and mushroom sauce, and put it in my mouth.
It was OK! (Read that in a surprised voice).
I cur another tiny piece. I had some chips. I had some peas. More pork.
The sous vide method had really, really worked on this. It was cooked and very tender. I was struggling a little with the smell, but the taste was OK.
I don't think I'll ever try and eat a fried pork chop, as I think the moment I get a bit of squeaky meat between my teeth, I'll barf. I don't think I'll ever try ordinary loin roast.
But I would try a chop sous vide again.
As long as it's accompanied by a rich sauce.
And I think the sous vide needs to stop being packed away each time we use it. It has earned a place on the worktop. I just need to find a place for her now.