Does it sound funny to say that people around here take their pigs pretty seriously?Italians are such dedicated carnivores that they have invented countless ways to make otherwise inedible parts of their livestock impossibly tasty.
We are now at the height of the pig season. I learned that one of the main reasons that the slaughtering of pigs happens during the winters months here is that it simply isn’t hygienic to slaughter a pig in the heat of the summer. While I was not certain how well I would stomach it, I figured that since I eat pork I may as well witness first hand where it comes from. And so on Saturday morning I woke early to see how a pig is turned into something palatable. While I set my alarm for the occassion, I was still the latecomer to the party and any true resemblance to the original animal was already a distant memory. So I’m not certain if I can truly say that I saw the slaughtering of a pig or the preparation of pork.
So when is the exact moment when a pig becomes pork? In Italian there is a single word for both the animal and the meat. Maiale. No difference. The Three Little Porks. This Little Porky Went to Market. The differentiation of the meat from the animal – more specifically the use of the word pork – derives from the French porc. In fact, the French are responsible for a number of words we use when referring to cooking or eating which were adopted after the Norman conquest of England in 1066 – veal for calf, beef for cow, and mutton for sheep. I’m not certain why chicken didn’t make the cut.