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November 28, 2001 - Pig III

First there was Rocky IV, then Rambo XI, and now Pigs III will squeezed the last breath of life from this subject. I was invited to a pig killing at one of the local farms. It is the tradition of holding back a pig for the family that interests me and not the carnage of the kill so I have decided not to show any photographs. Local farmer Raymond Gillard decided to hire a charcutier to kill his pig and turn it into food. The charcutier arrived with a truck full of tools and instruments to complete the job. Many of the tools are the same as those used one hundred years ago. Others are modern and make it possible to complete a three day job in nine hours.

As in day of yore, one of the hind legs of the pig is attached to a wall, which remarkably immobilizes the animal. The charcutier uses something like the bang sticks used by divers for killing sharks to kill the pig. He immediately cuts the throat and gathers the blood in a bucket that he constantly stirs to keep it from clotting. After about ten minutes, he stops stirring and sets the bucket aside. Evidently, it only necessary to stir the blood for a short time to keep it from coagulating.

The dead pig is dragged into the courtyard to burn off the fur. Instead of firing straw as in the old days, the charcutier uses a butane torch that leaves the pig looking like a Fourth of July hot dog (black). Instead of scraping the pig with tiles, he uses a high-pressure hose that leaves the pig immaculately white.

The pig is placed on its back on a litter and cut open. All of the guts are taken out and cleaned for making sausage. Andouillettes will never taste the same to me. The cleaning of the intestines is the most time consuming part of the process. The meat is cut into quarters and laid out on a table to sit for the night. It is cool enough so that it will not spoil. The hams and sausages will be smoked. The fatty parts will be simmered for hours the next day to make rillettes, rillons and whatever.

As usual in the bas vendômois, we celebrate the end of the job with a glass or two of pousse d'épine. Actually, this part of the ceremony takes place every day. Oh! It's raining. Let's drink to the rain. Oh! It's Monday. Let's have another. And so life goes on today as d'antan (the old days).

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 November 21, 2001 - Pigs II
 November 14, 2001 - Pigs
 October 31, 2001 - The Ghost of Chateau Chevre
 October 25 - Battle of Poitiers
 August 22, 2001 - Confrerie
 August 15, 2001 - Liberation
 August 8, 2001 - Le Cyclop
 August 1, 2001 - The Finger
July 25, 2001 - La Resistance
July 18, 2001 - System D
July 11, 2001 - The Accident
July 4, 2001 - Ange Pitou
June 27, 2001 - Feu de Saint Jean
June 20, 2001 - Geoffroy Martel
June 13, 2001 - Saint of the Day
June 6, 2001 - Escapade dans le Berry
May 30, 2001 - Learning French
May 23, 2001 - Pete and Manny
May 16, 2001 - Les Journees des Aubepines
May 8, 2001 - Armistice Day
May 2, 2001 - May Day
April 25, 2001 - Les Manouches
April 18, 2001 - Trôo
April 11, 2001 - Le P'tit Jules
April 4, 2001 - Men and Their Caves 
Archive of Weekly Columns Jan-Apr 2001
Archive of Weekly Columns from 2000


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