Saturday, December 20, 2008


Today the pig that has been growing all year was killed.
175kgs. was his weight. Despite the fact it is against the rules, noone in Romania when killing their pig does it any other way than with a knife through the heart.
Humane killers may be how its supposed to be done, but the creatures are still alive for a short spell.
Nelu, whose day job is paying out the money from Mosna City Hall, is the doyen of butchers. He has a touch that quietens the animal, and a long thin knife that in one jab kills the beast stone dead.
The whole pig is then boiled in a huge vat for about 20 minutes, then set on its back on a grid, and all the bristles burned off. Once it has been thoroughly scraped and washed, the butchery can begin.
First to be removed are the four trotters.This is so that turning the animal is easier, and it can sit steady on its remaining stumps. The back is cut all the way along, and the fat exposed. There is no blood - that has already drained away when it died.
No bit of ther pig is left unused. All the insides are made into a sort of pate. The fat and skin goes to bacon. All the odd bits are turned into sausages - made with the cleaned out gut. The bones are chopped into suitable sizes for stock.
The liver is fried and handed round to the workers. Mulled wine and tuica fortifies them. Some specific small pieces of meat are handed to Naia, who is the vet. He makes slides for inspection through his microscope. He pronounces the meat good.
Six hours after the work starts, it's time for lunch. Polenta and pickles and the freshest parts that have been cooked in their own fat are served. Butchering is hard work and the team all eat heartily.
There are other people present. The forester who looked after the pig until it was ready. His boss, who allowed it to wander through the woods.
But no women eat with the men. They are preparing the sausage meat and the pate.
By 5pm all is finished. The bits to be smoked are hanging with a fire under them. Those for salting are sitting in brine. Those for drying are hanging in drafts of air.
The yard is hosed down for the last time, the knives resharpened and put away.
An extraordinary event - yet commonplace.

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