"Annihilation" by Jeff Vandermeer & carnitas
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer came to me highly recommended and it did not disappoint. Annihilation follows the twelfth expedition to cross into Area X, a wilderness walled off from the rest of the world after an unknown ‘event.’ The expedition is a team of four women: a biologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor, and a psychologist, who have been sent in to try and break the secrets beyond the wall.
Throughout the novel, Vandermeer masterfully lays out eerie oddities like breadcrumbs, slowly but surely luring the reader down a path that takes her deeper into the unknowns of Area X. Like the best psychological thrillers, the unease mounts as each new reveal brings more questions than answers, introduces more opportunities for the mission to fail than to succeed.
The biologist is our narrator, and it quickly becomes apparent that she knows little more about Area X and its mysteries than the reader. Yet, the biologist relates each abnormal encounter within Area X in a methodical, almost sterile, way. This incongruity between tone and content creates a simmering disquiet that weaves through every page, and creates an unnerving novel that is a delight to read.
Although Annihilation can stand on its own as a novella, Annihilation is book one of three in the Southern Reach trilogy. For those who have a phobia of reading unfinished trilogies — never fear! All three books, Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance are already out.
For Annihilation, I chose to make carnitas — slow simmered seasoned pork that is finished off with a quick pan fry to give it a crisp. Like Annihilation, carnitas slowly simmesr to create a most satisfying end product.
- 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (or 2 1/2 pounds bone-in)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and ribs removed, chopped
- 1 orange, cut in half
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Rinse and dry the pork shoulder. Salt and pepper liberally. Mix the oregano and the cumin with olive oil and rub all over pork. Place the pork in a slow cooker and top with the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Squeeze over the juice of the orange and add the two halves. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for four hours.
Once the meat is tender, remove from slow cooker and let cool slightly before pulling apart with a fork. In a large sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Press the carnitas into the oil and fry until crusty on one side. Serve.
To make tacos, fork carnitas into a corn tortillas and top with salsa verde, diced onions, and cilantro.
Recipe via Food Network