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).