March 27, 2007

Eating Pig.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:25 pm

igP.jpgRecently my friends Christina and Dash threw a big shindig for which Dash roasted a pig and posted pre-and post pig roasting pictures here. I like pork, but I know I would not have been able to eat any of that pig, even though I am certain it would have been delicious. I couldn’t eat it because it still looked like a pig.

About twenty years ago, a friend invited me to a huge annual party at his farm in Pennsylvania. The main attraction was to be the pig roast. He has a large farm, so there was plenty of room in back of the house to build a large fire (I seem to think it was in a bit of a pit) over which he set up a spit large enough to hold a pig that had to weigh anywhere between 150 and 200 pounds. To me, it was a bigass pig.

As I recall, Mr. Pig was skewered and put up on the spit something like 24 hours prior to when it was to be eaten, and it was ceremoniously carried to the fire pit. (Note to the pig roasting cognoscenti: I may have the pig weight and the cooking time wrong. I’m not a pig expert, and I’m doing this from beer-soaked memory, so please cut me some slack.)

The guests were taking turns, throughout the night, keeping the fire hot and turning the spit with a crank equipped with a ratchet-type gizmo that allowed it to be turned a bit, then turned a bit again after a few minutes. The fire keeping and pig turning was obviously an integral part of the festivities, as was beer drinking.

Wanting to fit in with the other guests (lots of farmers) in ways other than beer drinking, I took a late-night turn at putting wood on the fire, and eventually it became my turn to spin Mr. Pig on the spit. Each time I turned the spit, Mr. Pig’s ears would flop around. I pretended that watching the ear flopping and his now-almost blackened skin didn’t bother me. In fact, after a while, I managed to convince myself that it really didn’t bother me.

Later in the day when it came to eat, I was encouraged to get on line to take a slice off Mr. Pig’s ass, before the host would take Mr. Pig off the spit and cut him into more manageable pieces.

There was no way I could cut a slice off Mr. Pig’s ass and eat it, nor was there any way I could eat any of the meat even after it had been sliced and put on a platter. All I could think of was Mr. Pig’s ears flopping as I turned the spit.

I know you’re thinking ”Yo, Jimbo. That is really crazy. Where the hell do you think pork comes from? Sheesh!”

I know it’s not a rational position, but it’s just that not having grown up on a farm, I am accustomed to seeing “pork” (not “pig meat”) on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in clear plastic and bearing a supermarket price tag. I don’t much like to think about the pig it came from. The same is true for beef and chicken as well. I like it sliced and wrapped in plastic.

I think if I couldn’t get those things in plastic, I could (and likely would) become a vegetarian.

Oh, and don’t even get me stared about seafood.

20 Comments »

  1. Don’t worry Jimbo. When you come down here to eat. We won’t let you see Mr. or Mrs. Pig being roasted and we’ll put it in a styrofoam tray for you. Either that or we’ll pour enough Shiner and Maker’s Mark down you, so you won’t care.

    Comment by Dash — March 27, 2007 @ 8:02 pm

  2. Better yet, roast the little suckling in a pit where it is out of sight. Y’all don’t have to go through that feed the fire and turn the spit stuff either.

    You, Jimbo, are a wuss!

    Comment by joated — March 27, 2007 @ 8:29 pm

  3. Jim,

    I am so sorry for your loss. If there’s anything I can do for you in this troubled time, just ask.

    Sincerely,
    Ken

    Comment by Ken Adams — March 27, 2007 @ 8:34 pm

  4. Just by virtue of my leaving a comment on this post, I feel as though I violating centuries-old codes of Jooooish law.

    Comment by Erica — March 27, 2007 @ 8:55 pm

  5. In his “salad” days, my Pop would roast a small pig once or twice a year. The most memorable pig was the one we prepared for my sister’s outdoor wedding.

    We started the night before, when my (usually bloodthirsty) wife declined the honor of dispatching Piggy, so I did the deed, ‘Joisey style, one shot to the head. Then Pop and I had to clean that dang little porker, and believe me, 100 pounds of dead pig is a handful to hang up and clean. But we got it done, and packed Piggy full of garlic, pepper, and onions into the icebox for the impending barbecue.

    Pop is a rustic, handicrafts sort of fellow, so the pit-n-spit was a rock-lined hole flanked by two long tree limbs stuck in the ground and a forked branch atop each one. The spit was a long sapling peeled about 6am, just prior to impaling Piggy. About 8am we had some beers to finish off breakfast and got the fire going, and had some good coals by 8:30. So we hoisted up Piggy and hung him over the fire, and he started to cook. Every half hour or so we took turns: have a beer, and turn the pig. Easy. In between beers, we decorated the nearby decks and gazebo, which was to be the location for the wedding ceremony, scheduled for 3pm.

    Along about 2pm, when the first (thirsty) early bird guests started showing up, Pop noticed that Piggy wasn’t cooking any too fast. If he didn’t take some kind of immediate and creative action, the main course for the barbecue would be macaroni salad, not a happy prospect. But Pop is perennially creative; without batting an eye he says “We need to keep that heat concentrated on the pig–let’s make a tent.” So he moseyed over to his workshop and fetched two dilapidated half-sheets of plywood, and propped them up, house-of-cards style, making a tent over the roasting pig. After about 10 minutes, the hot fat started sweating out of Piggy like a Democrat at confession. “Problem solved,” says Pop, and he went inside to put on his wedding duds.

    The appointed hour rolled around, and everything was going like clockwork. The preacher showed up sober, the groom was shaven and had a fresh haircut, my sister’s floral tiara was perfect, and my brother and his wife sang and played a concert-hall quality piano duet that made the birds stop singing. The service was winding up and heading for the pitch when a guest shouted out “The pig’s on fire!”

    In the hour that Piggy had been broiling in his tent, several pounds of lard had been rendered out of him and onto the hot coals, fueling the fire and making it hotter and hotter. By an unfortunate circumstance of local topography, Pop’s barbecue pit was on a slight slope, so one end of the Piggy tent was higher than the other. Hot air rises, so it was coming off the pit, and out the high end, hotter, and faster, and hotter, and faster, and…. By mid-wedding, the wind speed inside the Piggy tent was about 40 knots, Piggy was fully involved, and the uphill side of Pop’s tent contraption had flame spurting out like a hillbilly jet engine. The pig’s on fire! indeed. What pithy understatement.

    Pop, of course, was his nimble but imperturbable self. He grabbed me and a couple of shovels, and we popped the tent open–flaming plywood into the crowd–and hit Piggy with the garden hose. He steamed and sizzled, and went out, and–blessed luck–the coals in the pit stayed hot. “No problem,” says Pop. “We needed to burn the hair off anyway.” And he apologized to the preacher for the interruption, and the ceremony continued to its happy conclusion.

    Afterwards, we all had big slabs of roast pork sliced right off Piggy’s back, butt, sides, and hams, and ate and drank, and swapped lies ’til we could barely move. The wife and I, coming from Texas, had brought 3 or 4 dozen cascarones, and sneaked them out to all the kids among the guests. The kids had big fun sneaking up on their tipsy parents and cousins and cracking confetti eggs on their heads–my Mom was still cleaning confetti out of her carpets two years later.

    However, I did save out one special pig delicacy. Mom has a decidedly wicked sense of humor, and purely loves to surprise friends and family with practical jokes that leave you stuck in between “sputtering with rage” and “laughing yourself silly.” I owed her one for some stunt I misremember, and she set herself up by asking me to make her a pig sandwich. So I made her one, with lots of trimmings, about a pound of sliced pork, a smear of mustard, and the perfectly round, nice and crispy, end of the pig’s snout.

    “Dang this pork’s tough. What did you put in this sandwich?” And there was Mom, stuck in between sputtering with rage and laughing herself silly.

    Lessons learned: Beware of Pop and his ideas. Always take a shovel to an outdoor wedding (at least in my family). Check the contents of that sandwich before you bite into it.

    Comment by Mike Anderson — March 27, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

  6. Don’t worry Jimbo. You won’t even see the pig. BTW it tasted great!

    Comment by Denny — March 27, 2007 @ 10:37 pm

  7. You know I love you right? But seriously, you have no idea what you are missing! And if you ever come to visit my farmette in PA, then I will make sure not to show you the neighbor up the hill. Let’s just say, dead livestock laying about her place are common.
    Makes you rethink that supermarket meat section.

    Ahhh, but a good roast pig??? Yummy!!!

    Comment by oddybobo — March 27, 2007 @ 11:02 pm

  8. I can’t finish reading this right now because it’s time to check the Menudo…

    Comment by Pixie — March 27, 2007 @ 11:39 pm

  9. My wife is like that, she will eat it but does not like to think about the killing.

    BTW why is this your third Pig/pork post in a row?
    You starting a meme?

    Comment by Keeskennis — March 28, 2007 @ 12:04 am

  10. dear jimbo…
    You should’ve just cut the damned ears off and thrown ‘em in the fire, or pickled ‘em. And what is a “roast”… In Tarheel country, we do not have pig roasts, we have pig pickin’s. Yes, you stab your meat, well, you cut the piece off you want to eat, and gettin’ at it late is unfortunate because you miss the tenderloins…

    I’ll fed-ex you a knife if you’re headin’ to Texas. It might come in handy and fed-ex’n it would eliminate much of that airport horse shit. Bowie or Buck?

    Comment by RedNeck — March 28, 2007 @ 11:29 am

  11. I understand, Jim even though I’ve actually raised a pig, and watched it being killed and gutted, it was really hard to eat it without remembering it’s cute little face. On the other hand, it was really good and remembering chasing the sucker around the neighborhood when she got out of the pen made it go down a little easier.

    I’m totally with you on the raw fish thing though. Except for ceviche shrimp, which isn’t quite raw, I figure if God didn’t want to cook our food he wouldn’t have invented fire.

    Comment by Libby — March 28, 2007 @ 3:31 pm

  12. Mrs Curmudgeon is the same way. We were invited to a sort of Polynesian BBQ.
    I thought everything tasted most awesome. Even little Arnold sprawled out with the apple in his mouth. But the wife would have nothing to do with it.

    Comment by Cumudgeon — March 28, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

  13. hey, i fully agree. i remember that fish post but couldn’t believe i didn’t comment. i feel the same. i need a little suspension of reality for decent digestion.

    you didn’t even mention food served with eyeballs/or any facial features, and it’s really bad juju for the food to look at you, imho.

    Comment by shoe — March 28, 2007 @ 6:16 pm

  14. Jim, I couldn’t help but notice that this post, in combination with the last two, lean a bit toward the porcine, if only in title.

    If there is some kinda Da Vinnie Code embedded in all this, then as a loyal reader who’s incapable of figuring it out, I demand to know what it is.

    Comment by dogette — March 29, 2007 @ 11:25 am

  15. Jimbo… the supermarket predator. *grin* I’ve never been to a pig roast, I’ve heard good things about them though. As long as I didn’t have to look at it while I ate – I’d be just fine with the eatin’s

    Comment by Teresa — March 29, 2007 @ 5:05 pm

  16. Actually, this post and the SIX that preceded it dealt with PIGS in one way or another. ;-)

    Jimbo

    Comment by Jim — March 29, 2007 @ 6:56 pm

  17. I attended a pig roast at a commune in Washington State in my early 20s. I remember it as the best eating of my life. Of course it might have had something to do with the mushroom hor d’oeurves.

    Comment by Sluggo — March 30, 2007 @ 10:07 am

  18. Actually Jim, if you go into supermarkets, you can buy severed pig ears and faces in the styrofoam packaging with the eye still in and everything. They’re a dime a dozen in Pathmark.

    Personally, hearing that story made me hungry for some suckling pig and I’ve lived in Hudson County my entire life and have been on a farm all of two or three times in my lifetime. I guess that explains why I’m such a huge Ted Nugent fan other than the fact that the song Cat Scratch Fever kicks some serious ass!

    Comment by Dino P. Crocetti — March 30, 2007 @ 12:34 pm

  19. So… do you have a lot of pig roasting cognoscenti in your readership? ;-)

    Comment by bou — March 31, 2007 @ 9:32 pm

  20. Jimbo,
    I grew up on a pig farm, so I never had any mystery about where the meat came from. In fact some of the best pork I ever ate was tenderized by me kicking the pig in the ass.

    Pork – the other white meat.

    Comment by Jerry — April 5, 2007 @ 3:57 pm

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