Pork Belly with Five Spice Powder and…The Linear Bride

Haven’t we all had fun being in that special role of bridesmaid for that very special friend.  And the bonding between the bride and the bridesmaids can be enriched and strengthened from all the flurry of activity and building excitement that leads to the wedding day.

But that’s the happy story and tragically some bridesmaids have a very different experience that ends with the friendship between bride and ‘maid’ being ripped apart.

Pork Belly with Five Spice Powder

My friend Cath was asked to be bridesmaid for a very close friend she had known since they met on her first day of school.

But as the date of the wedding loomed closer, Cath, who was a single mum, began to feel uneasy about being a bridesmaid because it was becoming apparent that Cath was not going to be able to afford the costs involved.  The required dress alone was over $800.  (And this is about 15 years ago).  Then there were the compulsory shoes, the hair, the make-up and there was even a specific G-string that had to be purchased.  (And I do wonder what sort of bridesmaid’s dresses these were that the guests would be able to discern the make, type and colour of the G-string).

So with great trepidation Cath approached her friend and suggested it would probably be best if she withdrew from being a bridesmaid because she didn’t have the means to buy the G-string, let alone the shoes and the dress.

And the bride came to the decision that yes, Cath could be a bridesmaid because her father would benevolently pay for Cath’s dress.  Cath was very grateful and thought this was very kind until the bride added, ‘but because my father has to pay for your dress you won’t be getting a bridesmaid’s present’.  Cath was speechless.

The day of the wedding arrived and Cath was at the bride’s parent’s home where everyone was getting ready.  The bride gathered her bridesmaids together and handed them all little turquiose boxes that were unmistakably from Tiffanys.  But she didn’t hand one to Cath.  Instead she said, ‘Cath knows why she’s not getting a necklace’.

And then it was time for Cath, who has very curly locks to have her hair done.  As she sat down the bride came over and said, ‘Cath, you’re going to have to have your hair straightened because I’m having a linear wedding’.  And Cath looked all confused and said, ‘A what?’  And the bride said, ‘I’m having a linear wedding and I don’t want anyone ruining the formal photos so you’re going to have to have your hair straightened’.

So Cath went off to the wedding in a dress the father-of-the-bride had paid for, wearing a G-string that cut into places that shouldn’t be mentioned, ironed hair that made her unrecognisable and minus a necklace because she was poor.  And she had to make a speech.

And the perfect friendship that once was, never recovered.

Have you ever crossed paths with a bride-zilla?

Here’s a recipe that won’t give you a linear look if you eat too much of it because it’s rich and decadent pork belly but it’s very delicious and can bring comfort to a traumatised soul.

Pork Belly with Five Spice Powder

A non-linear meal

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  I find that even good quality pork belly (like free-range) is very reasonably priced

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 coriander roots, washed and scraped
  • 2 tbspns vegetable oil
  • 1 tbspn five-spice powder
  • 500g (1 lb) pork belly or neck, cut into 2 1/2cm (1 in) dice
  • 1 ltr (34 fl oz/4 cups) chicken stock
  • 2 tbspns dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbspn light soy sauce
  • 2 tbspns fish sauce
  • 1-2 tbspns palm sugar
  • coriander (cilantro) leaves to garnish

In a mortar make a paste with the garlic and coriander roots using a pestle.  Heat the oil in a wok or pot and gently fry the garlic and coriander paste until just starting to colour.  Add the five-spice powder and pork, stir-frying until the meat is coated with the spices.  Add the stock, soy sauces, fish sauce and sugar.  Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer.  Skim often and cook for about 1 hour on a low heat.  Transfer to a bowl and garnish with the coriander leaves.

Serve with steamed Jasmine rice.

Recipe from Spirit House, Essentially Thai




  1. What a cow of a friend! That is unbelievable.

  2. That is a use of the word friend that I am not familiar with. She is well rid of her.

    Love the pork though.

  3. I have no idea why some women become hell-bent on creating this ‘perfect’ wedding. A wedding is a celebration, not an excuse to be a pedantic bitch. I’ve been lucky enough to avoid any bridezillas in my travels though.

    Now your pork, well that is something I’m happy to have cross my path.

  4. Holy guacamole! A linear wedding? That’s code for a crazy wedding 😛

  5. That bride is a horrible horrible person! If I was your friend, I would have just said no and storm out. Or perhaps make a speech befitting of her treatment. 🙁
    I was actually a bridesmaid for a close friend on Sunday, although she was quite stressed beforehand, she was no where near as bad as your story. She actually bought us the dress and gave us a thank you necklace too, not to mention paid for the hair and makeup. Guess everyone’s different…

  6. The bride sounds like a fruitcake. (And I don’t like fruitcake.)

    The pork is gorgeous.

  7. The closest I came was knowing that my bride skimped on bridesmaids gifts so she could have three different wedding dresses but wore one!

  8. Actually, my daughter in law…nuf said

  9. What a sad story–mainly for the mis-guided bride. How tragic to be so directed by the outer that you forget then inner (i.e. the friendship), which is far more important. Gorgeous pork recipe though!

  10. I hope I’m not being that Bride! I am actually doing my best not to. I’m totally against asking people to pay money to do something that I want. I could never ask people to spend $800 on a dress for MY wedding!!!

  11. What a horrible story, I am not sure I understand the concept anyway. People can’t be expected to pay out so much in order to support a friend. Anyway, the dish looks fantastic!

  12. A friend can last for ever, not so sure about a marriage so, this makes me sad. I do like the look of the pork though,I would like to try that

  13. Oh, my gosh. What a sad story! And so much for being “linear” if one of the bridesmaids didn’t have a necklace. Good grief – sounds like a friendship that wasn’t worth keeping anyway. I hope that your friend has found many new friends to “replace” the nasty bride!

    Now – the recipe – my husband doesn’t like 5 spice powder. Shoot!

  14. Thankfully I haven’t had the misfortune of a bridezilla but I must say that I am thrilled to be fortunate enough to come across your delightful recipe!
    🙂 Mandy

  15. This whole bridezilla thing is, to me, horrendous. The sense of entitlement is beyond belief and I would run for the nearest exit if my beloved started down that path. I feel badly for Cath but, in reality, she didn’t lose much. She certainly didn’t lose a true friend.

  16. The story is indeed unbelievable! I am glad Cath has moved on! She should not think that the world is full of bad people because of one bad egg in the basket. I hope she treats this as one joke in her life which she can tell her kids for entertainment.

    Your recipe is what we Chinese love to cook. We use many five-spice for such dishes. In fact, we usually minced the meat, add some water chestnut, carrots, prawns everything minced up and wrap the mixture in beancurd skin. These beancurd five-spice minced rolls can either steam or fried. They taste delicious!

  17. Now there’s a segue into a pork dish! The most polite thing I can say about the bride is – ‘what a cow’. I wonder if the marriage lasted? Who would want to be friends with such a person, never mind married to them?!

  18. That’s horrible! How could someone do that to a ‘friend’ clearly this bride doesn’t need friends…and what the…its like she’s done all this to make Cath feel bad…I would’ve just left if I was Cath…no point in staying and having to give a speech I feel so sorry for her >_<

    lovely recipe btw 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Daisy. Yes, horrible situation. Unbelievable. Cath managed to get through her speech but she left straight after. Met up with ‘other’ friends and had a great night out.

  19. Oh my, that is nasty. Bride-zilla, not the pork, which is lovely 🙂

  20. Oh – i’ve just found your blog & what a cracker post to start with, spicey indeed. Straight up, that is not a friend. I have been a bridesmaid way too many times in too many ugly dresses & too many ugly situations to ever have bridesmaids. I got married 15 years ago & can safely say i don’t know what a linear wedding is, perhaps because i wasn’t a bridezilla. I was still at Uni with a sister, 4 sisters-in-law, best friend from preschool, primary schoo, high school, Uni, part time job . . . who exactly could i ask anyway?? So . . . i had a flower girl only, my husband had his best mate that was it!! After all, it’s all about the certificate & marriage, NOT the photos & production, or showing off. My friends all had a great time as they weren’t on the formal table or forced into any photos with partners etc & i love it.
    Now the pork recipe looks a treat, i’d like to flick some sauce over the bride’s dress, he he, love Posie

  21. Wow, that is a horrible story, what kind of friend would do that? Not my kind of friend for sure. I sure hope your friend doesn’t see her anymore, such selfishness doesn’t deserve friendship. The pork belly looks delicious, I love 5-spice powder!

  22. What on earth sort of a person decides that her bridesmaids all have to be wearing identical underwear? The words…. fail me. What does she do? Panty inspections before the ceremony?

    That’s some fantastic pork belly – looks like something they’d serve in a decent Chinese restaurant… I’m super impressed!

  23. Oh, that’s a terrible story! As I mentioned, I’ve been a bridesmaid several times and thank goodness all my friends are relaxed people. One is a most efficient planner and honed in on some details which were deemed unimportant later, but never did she have any “grand visions” which she forced on us thank goodness.

  24. Pork belly is my favourite cut of meat indeed!
    After that story maybe I should be glad I’ve never been asked to be anyones bridesmaid!

  25. See, it’s stuff like this that makes me glad my wife and i had a registry wedding & a reception at a pub, frankly. 12 guests for ceremony, 24 for lunch, & however many for drinks after.
    The only stress was a mate getting stuck in traffic.

    More things need to use five-spice. It’s good on warmed peanuts as well.

  26. I’ve only been a bride’s maid once and the experience was SO stressful that I refused to do it ever again for any of my other friends. Awful I know…but I did offer to take over decorating, organizing, or anything else they wanted me to do – other than the bride’s maid “thing”. It made for a much more relaxing time for me. 😉

    I’ve never had pork belly but it looks absolutely delicious!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I know how you feel. I was a bridesmaid once and also did a speech at the reception. I was so exhausted by the time the evening was finished I felt like I needed to be going on a honeymoon – not home to the mess!

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