This Little Piggy Went…

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.

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5 Responses to This Little Piggy Went…

  1. Mom says:

    WOW…you are really getting an education in Italy – good for you!!!

  2. Margaret says:

    Somehow I’m amazed it all happens in one day!

    • kmingo says:

      It was all over by the afternoon. That said, you’ve got to wait between one to two years to eat the proscuitto. That part requires a little more patience.

  3. Ken says:

    Grazi! Just two days ago Vera and I were comparing stories of childhood farm slaughter. It started while watching a movie set in Provence with, “Did you ever collect eggs?”
    I was about six when I watched (in horror) as my grandfather butchered a pig. I didn’t eat pork for (what seemed like) a year. I’m guessing.that Primo did not go with.

    • kmingo says:

      Yes. I left Primo behind for this field trip. Everyone has their breaking point. The man who butchered the pig told me that he doesn’t like to go to the pen and choose which pig will meet his maker.

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