It’s hard to believe, but there are fads in pork, just like anything else. 100 years ago, a Hungarian breed of pig called Mangalitsa was the preferred pork breed for restaurants across Europe and the eastern U.S. Over the last century their popularity declined for a variety a reasons. The Mangalitsa also fell out of favor with pork producers because they require open pasture and high quality feed, as opposed to common breeds today, which can be raised in small pens on an industrial scale on cheap feed like corn or soy.
The Mangalitsa pig is easily recognized by its long, curly hair. It has returned to favor in some chef’s kitchens recently because, unlike most popular breeds, Mangalitsa pork is marbled. This gives the meat a rich, authentic taste that makes it unique among pigs. This is good news for the Mangalitsa, because just a few years ago the breed was bordering on extinction, with numbers in the hundreds, as opposed to 30,000 individuals in 1950 in Hungary alone.
At least one farm has imported the Hungarian pig to the U.S., and Mangalitsa pork, previously only available from Spain, has begun to spread to other Western countries. Restaurants like the Spotted Pig in New York city have begun serving the pork with much success.
Mangalitsa meat fetches a much heftier price than industrial pork, but for customers who value taste over price, the succulent marbled meat of Hungarian pork can be a satisfying experience.