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13 Catt. 4: In re Pepe

2012 October 24
by JEREMY, C.J.

JEREMY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Cart. CATTLEYA, J., wrote a separate concurrence.

I. INTRODUCTION

Gather ‘round, children, and the Chief Justice will tell you a story. Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived two little pigs, Puerquito and Cochinito.

Puerquito was a black Iberian pig. Puerquito lived in a glade of the forest in the hills above Jabugo. While a wee piglet, Puerquito was fed barley and maize. After a time, Puerquito was allowed to roam among the oak trees and feast only on the sweet and delicious acorns that lay scattered among their ancient and gnarled roots. He imagined always he was destined for great and wondrous things.

Cochinito was of a Landrace breed of white pig. Cochinito lived on a larger farm near Treveléz. While Cochinito never knew the taste of the sweet and delicious acorns of the hills above Jabugo, Cochinito was nonetheless a contented pig, one destined always for great and wondrous things.

Little Puerquito and little Cochinito had big dreams of one day going to America, to find their ways in the land of opportunity. Little Puerquito saw himself a magnate of industry, with a sleek office high in the clouds. Little Cochinito saw himself in pictures.

Time went by, and little Puerquito and little Cochinito grew fatter and fatter until they were no longer so very little. Then along came a day so rainy and misty and cold that even the big dreams of little piggies grew obscured. Puerquito sat in the glade of the forest nibbling on acorns. Cochinito napped in his stall, a trough of feed at his side. But along came a mean old man who struck down Cochinito as he rested. Some distance away, Puerquito, too, met his demise, leaving behind amid the ancient and gnarled roots of the oak trees a single, half-eaten acorn of especial sweetness.

Puerquito and Cochinito were covered with salt and left to cure for a time. After several months, they were rinsed and left to dry for several more. Then, one day, they were placed in cartons marked with stickers that bore the word “America,” and though their eyes had long since grown glassy and caked with salt, they knew, from wherever they were, that their dreams were coming true.

They arrived one day in a great metropolis of Corinthian columns and marble domes and granite pillars, where a man named José Andrés purchased them for his food truck, Pepe. They were carved and sliced and seared and paired with aioli and roasted green peppers and caramelized onions atop so many ficelles, when along came the members of the Supreme Cart with, it so happens, a $20 bill. And so it came to pass, dear ones, that I, the Chief Justice, along with my sister came to grant cartiorari to Pepe’s $20 “Pepito de Ibérico.”

Pepe

II. STREET FOOD

Since at least the days of Big Cheese, our first task must always be that of determining whether the subject of our critique constitutes “street food.” See In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012). It is well settled that the sandwich represents perhaps the clearest form of “street food.” See, e.g., id. Therefore, as a sandwich, unless we find the Pepito de Ibérico so flawed as to preclude affirmance, we must affirm. In this case, we find we must.

III. PRICING

Before passing to the sandwich itself, we must take pause to consider perhaps the most notable thing about the Pepito de Ibérico—that is, its price.

The faithful reader may recall that, a year or so ago, we of the Cart sampled Red Hook Lobster Pound’s $15 lobster roll. At the time, that was the metropolitan region’s dearest food truck offering. We remarked that Red Hook was “no everyday food truck.” In re Red Hook Lobster Pound, 2 Catt. 1 (2011). That it was “a special occasion food truck—an anniversary and graduation food truck,” or “[b]etter yet, an expense account food truck.” Id.

Well, it seems Red Hook has been surpassed by $5. The Pepito de Ibérico comes in at a hefty $20, which is not so very hefty after all given that it features a rather healthy helping of not inexpensive Ibérico ham. In the end, I would find the Pepito de Ibérico to be reasonably priced, although, at $20, it is firmly a “special occasion” buy.

Pepito de Iberico

IV. PEPITO DE IBERICO

And now, some 700 words into this frankly long-winded decision, we pass finally to the question of the sandwich itself. As we have done many times now, before analyzing the whole of the offering, we address each of its constituent parts.

Roasted Green Peppers. First, there are the green peppers which are roasted and flavorful and provide a verdant counterpoint to an otherwise fleshy sandwich. I have nothing much to say about the peppers individually except that they are delicious and not at all extraneous.

Caramelized Onions. Then there are the onions. “Caramelized” is one of those words that is bandied about and quickly loses its significance. Cf. Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012); In re TaKorean, 1 Catt. 4 (2011). But Pepe’s onions are caramelized in the truest sense: golden, sweet, succulent, and mere seconds from burnt.

Aioli. As every schoolchild knows, an aioli is an emulsion of garlic, olive oil, and egg yolk. But Pepe’s aioli lent an almost cheese-like note to the sandwich, heightening the sensation that you are eating a cheesesteak—only much, much, much better.

Ficelle. The ficelle, see In re Rolling Ficelle, 6 Catt. 3 (2012), was fresh in the right places and crunchy in the right places and soft in the right places and all around a perfect vehicle for the sandwich’s other components. It held up mightily to the viscous aioli and the dripping grease of the two hams.

Jamón, Jamón. Finally, we arrive at the hams—little Puerquito and little Cochinito. Am I expert at distinguishing the intricacies of the Serrano from those of the Ibérico? Not really. I know intellectually that the latter is richer and fattier and a bit sweeter than the former. In the Pepito de Ibérico, there is no real opportunity to say, ah, so this is the Ibérico and, ah, so this is the Serrano. The two mingle and complement each other to form a deep and complex tapestry of porcine delicacy. And that is how it should be.

V. CONCLUSION

Given these artful components, it comes as no surprise that the sandwich as a whole is masterful. Pardon my Spanish, but it is damn tasty. And while it’ll run you a pretty Jackson, we of the Cart hold that it is okay to treat yourself to a street sandwich worth more than saffron once in a blue moon. Puerquito and Cochinito have done well in this land of opportunity—this land of office towers and moving pictures, this land of $20 street meat—, and there’s nothing more inspiring than that.

AFFIRMED.

CATTLEYA, J., concurring.

Ah, at long last the Chief Justice recognizes that he’s long-winded! Dare I hope that he will finally take tips from the wise Mr. Wydick, who has much to teach the Justice about concise writing?

On the subject of the $20 Pepito de Ibérico, I wish only to say that the sandwich, though very delicious,  is most certainly a dish to save for when someone else is picking up the bill.

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