Thursday, June 30, 2011

Difficult and delicious ...

It was stormy outside when I asked the question. Kind of like today. I always seem to remember the weather. It was a difficult question for me to ask. I had been thinking about it, pondering its meaning for many months.

Can you help me to kill a pig? So that I understand what it means? I ask.

Sure, he says. When would you like to do it?

Just like that.

For a long time now dear readers, I have been thinking about my relationship with the land and sea creatures that I eat. The countless ducks, goats, lambs, boars, deer, cows, pigs, chickens, other birds, eggs, fish, crustaceans, mollusks and so on that have graced my table all my life. I have savored, salivated over and devoured each one of them in countless preparations, with gusto and delight. It is only recently (over the last four years or so) that the connection between the life and death involved in these delicious experiences has been on my mind (come to think of it, my inherited family's slightly freaky fondness of eating heads and everything in them may have had something to do with it - I still cannot have them on my plate). I mean, don't get me wrong, I always realized that I was eating an animal and in the back of my mind I knew that it was once a living thing, but I did not give it any more thought than that (until the heads...). It all changed for me when I started buying from the farm again. It had been a long time since my farm days in Romania. I had lost my connection for a while.

Now, you remember the king of pig don't you? Well, he's killed animals for food since his childhood days. The old fashioned way.  He speaks respectfully (as most hunters do) of the animals that have died for his consumption and his stories are told with wisdom and appreciation for the sacrifice and goodies that followed. Not a thing goes to waste. It is was with him and his wife (the queen of beans, they were seriously amazing) that I was to go and kill the pig for our pig roast. I wanted to really know what it means to eat meat. To take the responsibility. To feel it and see the animal so that I would never take it for granted. I was ready.

I didn't do it dear readers. I chickened out. 

I was too scared. Scared that it would torment me. I mean, I can't have heads on my plate and I'm going to help kill a pig? We are speaking of a 130 pound animal here. It was too much. All my bravado and noble intentions, out the door in the face of truth. I called Mr. King, confessed my fear, humbly apologized and suggested that perhaps I can start with a fish first. He understood, he knows it's not easy. He graciously obliged and promised to take us fishing this summer. I have never been.

I know this has not been the most tantalizing post leading up to what was an amazing experience and a spectacularly wonderful meal but it is real. I wanted to share the truth with you. It is how I came to attend this glorious pig roast and how it made me feel. It was difficult and delicious. Thank you pig.

Time to photo dish.

The pit ...hand built by Mr. King ...of pig ...
Of hoofs ...
And snouts ...
And heads ...
Oh my ...
The flip and nibble ...
Topsy ...
Difficult and simply delicious ...


  1. Oana, thanks for sharing. Animals are a difficult thing. I don't think you have to see your chickening out as a failure or anything like that. There is something admirable about being able to face up to the truth of what you're eating, but maybe there's also something to be said for your not being able to kill a sentient being. As I said, a difficult thing to sort out.

  2. They are a difficult thing. Well, I kind of see it as more of a step. There is a chance that I may not be eating animals in the future. I have cut down tremendously already but it is becoming more and more difficult. It is a difficult thing to sort out. In 300 years mankind will be on plants :). They will look back and call us barbarians :).

  3. Thank you King of pig for sharing this experience with us. Next one will be a lamb roast at our place for a little taste of the Mediterranean.

  4. king of pig's wifeJuly 1, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    mmmmmm..... sounds good!!!

  5. I'm sorry it was difficult. I'm happy it was delicious. In todays age, lots of people don't want to know where their food comes from. I think that baring your soul and declaring a "chickening out" shows plenty of courage.
    You don't have to be on the front lines of slaughter to appreciate the meat on your plate. A simple ackowledgement that it isn't just another plastic-wrapped product, a simple respect for what you are eating (which you obviously think about) goes a long way!

  6. Yeah, my own eating habits are a little confused. I identify as a vegetarian, but if I'm out at a nice restaurant, I'll eat fish without a second thought. There are still lots of things to be uncomfortable about though--the fact that fish are still animals, scaly though they are, over-fishing, etc. But back when I wasn't eating fish, I felt as though I was being left out of something really important. There are men and women doing brilliant things in kitchens the world over, and it's hard to turn all that away. But maybe that's selfish; I don't know.
    And then there's just the awkwardness of sharing a table with people and not sharing in what they eat, in what's important to them. Maybe all of this is clear for some people but definitely not for me.

  7. @ Anonymous - Thanks for the kind words - I like "the front lines of slaughter", it made me smile.

  8. @ Katie, Thanks for being so candid. I guess things are rarely black and white. It is a bit murky for me as well.

  9. Thank you for sharing your reflections of the last years. Most people would not consider thinking about this so you may inspire some. I could not have been at the slaughter either, even the roast seems tough. But you are seeking out experiences that are rare and that is to be applauded.

  10. @ Cheap Ethnic Eats - Thanks Evelyne. When we do the lamb here at our place, you have to come okay?