Lardcore: “Southern food with hard-core attitude.” — Josh Ozersky in Time magazine, Oct. 27, 2010. Coined from lard and hardcore.
From Ozersky’s article:
But a slew of young chefs are taking modern Southern cooking to a new place, forming a movement in the crucible of high ideals, virtuoso technique and hard-core attitude. Call it lardcore. It’s meticulous, it’s ballsy and it doesn’t care what you think of it. In that, it’s very Southern.
(Digression: meticulous and ballsy make an interesting pairing.)
Typically, lardcore features unapologetically low-rent proteins like pork jowls and catfish, and treats them the way Paul Bocuse treated foie gras. John Besh, of August restaurant in New Orleans, does with mudbugs, a.k.a. lowly crawfish, what Eric Ripert does with uni (sea urchin) or Dover sole; Linton Hopkins, at Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta, serves an even more amazing cured-flounder tartare. (Who ever heard of flounder tartare?) Their food comes in small but potent portions, and is sourced with an almost Shinto-like regard for natural integrity. So pure of heart are many of these cutting-edge restaurants that they don't even bother with fried chicken; they know that if they don’t have time to do it in a cast-iron pan filled with lard, it’s not worth doing. So they leave it for the meat-and-three joints that dot the Southland’s strip malls.
(A digression on Southland: in the Los Angeles area, the term is used by journalists to mean “greater Southern California.”)
Ozersky later calls lardcore “locavorism on steroids.” Locavore was the New Oxford American Dictionary’s 2007 word of the year.
The Charleston City Paper quickly took note of lardcore, calling it “the food word of the year.”
New words formed with the –core suffix are fairly common, but most of them identify musical genres (from “hardcore rock”). See, for example, couplecore, a former Word of the Week. There are also movie –cores, such as mumblecore. Other –core compounds include:
Yardcore: Jamaican hardcore
Metalcore: A fusion of hardcore rock and heavy metal.
Mathcore: Rhythmically complex metalcore.
Nerdcore: A genre of hip-hop characterized by themes of interest to nerds, such as “Star Trek.”
Gothcore: A fusion of hardcore rock and death/goth/horror punk.
Following that formula, lardcore could refer to, say, songs about Krispy Kreme and Piggly Wiggly; or it could signify rock and roll performed by obese musicians. (As it happens, there is a British band called Lardcore; according to its MySpace page, the band was formed in early 2006. No explanation is given for the name.)
The lardcore.com domain belongs to an “adult” website that features corpulent protagonists; this usage reflects on an early meaning of hardcore: a style of pornographic film.
Read more about the –core extension in the Snowclones database, where author Erin O’Connor writes:
When the -core affix is attached to a word, it is meant to apply the “militant, fiercely loyal” sense of hardcore to that word.
Hat tip for the lardcore citation: Ben Zimmer on the American Dialect Society listserv.