Herman 'Porkie' Billings - Best in the WestThursday, January 21, 2021
It could be argued that the topic of pork generates more discussion than any other meat on the Rock and pork eaters will not shy away from telling you of their love of the pig from the nose to the tail, with the squeal the only thing left to be had. Consequently the 'Porkman' is always highly sought-after in a haze of pan chicken sellers.
Herman Billings or 'Porkie' as he's known in the streets has been that guy for the last 30 years. Looking back, Billings was on the nose, when at age 15 he came across a 'Porkman' selling and decided at that moment, that would be his chosen path as well. Fast forward four years later, he started selling his pork offerings in his hometown of Bethel Town in Westmoreland.
“When me about 15 me see a man a sell it and me just say that me want fi do when me grow up. So, start do it when me about 19, come up with my own style and process, try it one way, test it and come back again,” Billings explained.
Billings eventually settled on a process that has his customers referring to him as “best pork” and keeps his loyal throng of customers eagerly anticipating servings four days a week (Wednesday to Saturday).
The cooking process starts with smoking the meat cuts on the grill for an hour over logs made from guango (Samanea saman) and sweet wood (Laurel Tree) for flavour and logwood (Haematoxylum campechianum) for heat. The meat is then slow-cooked for an hour inside a pot with seasonings including escallion, garlic, thyme, onion, pepper and pimento, then finally back to the grill until the desired texture and colour are achieved.
“I started in Bethel Town and then come to MoBay in '94 and it has been good, people dem love it. My customers come from all over. Right now I have customers from Mexico, America, Spain and there's a group from England every year they come down they find me. They even asking for the recipe. People say best pork dem ever have and that just feels good as you have to love what you do,” Billings stated with a smile.
Among his loyal customers is Desroy Hitchman, who has been buying for the last four years.
“I grew up around pigs and I know how pork should taste once it's done properly. This pork is the best around town and even out of town,” Hitchman stated.
Over the years Billings has had some prime cuts, his operation in Bethel Town has been converted into a jerk centre that is operated by his daughter and a pig rearing farm that is overseen by his son.
Billings believes he's on the tail end of his selling days, but has a dream for the growth of the business and for others to become independent and accomplish their goals too.
“It's the love for this why me out here. I used to do six days but now mi do four as all my kids gone through school. My headquarters in Bethel Town but I still come MoBay for the people. We have a new grill on wheels up there too and another thing I would love if I could get some young people to come in and I would supply them with pork and even the grill if necessary. That way they can get a spot somewhere and get a start,” Billings stated.
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