A crisis of conscience?

It was the first time in all my years of cooking that I was seriously turned off of eating and cooking meat and it largely because of this guy.

100% suckling pig

For the last class of my Barbecue Style cooking course chef brought in a suckling pig for us to cook, and when I say suckling, I mean suckling. I couldn’t believe how 100% the little pig was, and I was overcome with an incredible sense of sadness that at 6 – 8 weeks old this guy was taken from his mother’s teat so that he could become someone’s dinner or, in my case someone’s cooking demo. 

Preparing the pig was relatively easy. After washing him off with vinegar, we rubbed a healthy amount of salt and five-spice seasoning into the skin, and then it went into the smoker/roaster for about 80 minutes. After roasting, the pig was bathed repeatedly in scalding hot oil until the skin started to crackle and get crispy.

Bathed in oil

Once it was done, everyone crowded around to sample the pig but, I hung back I couldn’t bring myself to cross the line. This weekend is the vegetarian food festival in Toronto. One of my best friends and I are going, and who knows this maybe the start of me becoming vegetarian.

Nah!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was just a moment with that pig.

Copyright © 2012, Olive & Ruby. All rights reserved.

Comments

Kim's picture

I have always had a difficult time with people having a pig roast and just carving meat right off of the pig. Now, I realize that meat comes from animals but I have a hard time when it's face is in mine. I applaud you for being able to prepare this, not only the talent but the, ahem, guts. Well done! Although, I do sympathize with you for not being able to enjoy the spoils of your hard work.

Rhonda's picture

Thanks Kim, I was really surprised that it just felt wrong eating that little guy. Hope you have a great weekend!

Mary's picture

Rhonda
I remember when I was in chef school and we visited an abattoir.

That really put me off meat of any kind because I saw the lack of thought, the mindless slaughter and the sort of gross over indulgence that went into the processing of the food we buy.

I did try a vegetarian food life style for a while but I couldn't sustain it out of lack of interest and the determined craving for meat that returned after a few months of abstinence. These are two of the reasons I learned how to slaughter and butcher my own meat.

Although I don't have the opportunity now to do it very often I have killed and butchered poultry and small animals and I've been to the farm and picked my cow, lamb and/or pig grown it and sent it for slaughter. it's not fun to watch no matter how nice we the treated the creature in life but I recognize the truth of my nature. I am an omnivore, no apologies and I feel a responsibility to look this in the eye.

If you prepare a whole animal this way it can be a lesson not just in food prep. Think of the care that you take, the way that you honour the ingredients that you are working with and the pleasure and sustenance you are providing to guests, friends and loved ones. Choose carefully; work thoughtfully; be judicious and clear in your choice of animal, seasoning and cooking method. Indulge and celebrate, not in a mindless gorge but fully savour what you have created.

When we go into a big box store or a supermarket and see row upon row of prepackaged, factory raised 'animal by product " that is sterilized, removed from any meaning or gratitude - that is the point where you need to consider vegetarianism as an option. Putting a face to the animal you eat makes you aware, grateful and clearer about what and how you eat.

Not to sound preachy and sorry if I did but I always think that cooking is almost a sacred trust. You are responsible for feeding not just the body but the spirit.
Hope you continue to grow and learn and enjoy (and feel free to invite me over to your next adventure lol)

Marlene's picture

This is a thought-provoking post, Rhonda. I know people who are quite happy to eat meat, but don't want to acknowledge where it comes from. I am an omnivore; I don't eat much meat but I do enjoy it. Having been brought up on a farm, when I was a child I watched my Dad slaughter chickens that then proceeded to literally run around like chickens with their heads cut off. I then watched my mother pluck and eviscerate the birds before they were cooked for our dinner table. I agree with your commenter Mary that the animals we eat need to be honoured and treated with respect. After all, we have taken their lives to help sustain our own. A higher level of consciousness about this in our society might help decrease the thoughtless over-consumption of meat, and perhaps result in a decrease in troublesome factory farming and mass production practices.

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