On Friday, our last day at Villas Mastatal, we slaughtered a pig. It wasn’t Pepe, the friendly black and white spotted pig we’ve been raising, but another (larger) pig from the neighbourhood.

image

Pepe here was too small, so he's been spared until Easter

The family wanted Chicharrones, deep-fried pork skin and meat, cooked over an open fire, which is a Christmas tradition in these parts. Ellen and I were able to participate in all aspects of bringing the pig to the table. We found it fascinating, so I will describe it – if you aren’t into that sort of thing, you might not want to read on. Don’t worry, though, I’ll avoid pictures of the messy in-between stages of the butchering.

image

The pig rode to the farm in the back of Javier’s truck, and she was led to the workshop where two pots of water were boiling. Javier’s brother-in-law was doing the slaughtering, and he knocked the pig unconscious right away with the blunt end of an axe. The killing was swift and looked painless, and within a few minutes the pig was laid on a board near the boiling water. Javier and his brother-in-law poured boiling water over the pig’s skin to release the hairs, which they shaved off the skin with a kitchen knife.

When the pig was shaved, Ellen and I helped string her up to the rafters, where she was butchered in short order. Ellen videotaped the entire process on her camera, and it took only twenty minutes to remove the innards and cut the pig up into sections. The skin and fat were removed and put in a bowl for dinner, and the meat was portioned for the two families sharing the pig.

image

Skin and tail get put aside for our dinner

Back at the kitchen, less than an hour after the pig was on the hoof, Javier and Raquel prepared the meat, fat, and skin for frying. The volunteer coordinator got another fire going and heated the oil, Ellen made salad, and I boiled green bananas as a side dish. Then we sat around a fire telling stories in Spanish and English as the meat sizzled.

image

Meat on fire is good!

image

First bite! So good it seems like the angels are lighting it up!

Within three hours of starting the process, we were eating the pork at the table. I was grateful for the chance to eat the freshest pork I’ve ever tasted, and glad to know that here, at least, I can watch the process of killing a pig for dinner and feel good about eating it when all is done.

image

A fine meal

And as an added treat, we had dessert! Our friend from San Jose had given us a Christmas cake which we’d been saving for our last day, and we served it with the orange chicha (homemade alcohol) that Ellen and I started three weeks ago. All in all, it was an excellent final day on the farm at Villas Mastatal.

image

Advertisements