Thursday, May 04, 2006

Killing a Pig for The Wedding Festival

A recollection of our trip to Cagayan, Gonzaga:

After a long and grueling overnight road trip from Manila, we arrived the following day shortly before lunch. After exchanging greetings, pleasantries, and what-nots; we ate several delicious home cooked Illicanoe vegetarian dishes - probably the best Filipino vegetarian dishes I've tasted so far. Everyone, including me, was tired from the long road trip; and we each went about the house looking for some quiet place to nap. But it wasn't long before I woke up, not to the usual cock-a-doodle-doo rooster sound, or the sounds from amongst the other farm animals, but to the unusual sound of a squealing pig. I knew exactly what was happening, and not wanting to miss out on all the action, I grabbed Karen's cellphone camera, quickly dressed and headed out to the backyard.
Several men had already gathered, and were busy working together in teams laying out tables, firing up the large iron cooking pots or preparing the vegatables. There is a strange custom in this part of the world, that at any important social function, the men are the ones responsible for the cooking - the woman can't get involved. I guess its more of a time-honoured bravado that is participated by the older men than by anyone else.
By the time I started to take snap shots, the men had already slaughtered the first pig, and were beginning to gut and debone it; they now proceeded to the second and than the third pig - five swines in total would be slaughtered today in honour of Jess's and Mabel's wedding banquet. The Barangay Captain was there helping out, and so were some of my other uncles and relatives. Tata was generally watching from a safe distance, and in-between sips from his Emperandor Whisky, was dispensing words of wisdom to my uncle Nato and four of Jesper's drinking buddies. Jesper's buddies, I suspect were waiting for the start of Happy Hour, which usually involves an all-night chit-chatting feat, followed by some heavy drinking, and than more chit-chatting - another custom that is ununiquely universal. Tata and Jesper's drinking buddies didn't have much of a stomach for the slaughtering either, and they generally kept their distances. It was mainly the older, more experienced men who were doing the slaughtering. After years of raising and slaughtering their farm animals - be it a pig, goat, dog or a chicken - you could still sense a bit of hesitation at first, perhaps for love or respect of the animal, than once the slaughtering starts, there follows a strong adrenaline rush that kept them going kill after kill. Slaughtering a pig is no simple task, its bloodied, hard and dirty work. It took 15 men, working a whole afternoon and late into the evening before the pigs were slaughter, even then the job was not complete, there was still the cooking and preparation of the meat in preparation for tomorrow's feast.


Slaughtering the pigs is a long and daunting task
that take
all afternoon to complete.


... this man is stirring fresh blog that is slit and collected from
the pigs throat. Its latter mixed with Papaya to turn it
into a salad that you eat with steaming rice.


After the pig is slaughtered, the men guts through and debones the pig.
There's alot of meat, and one pig may take 4 men working for more than
one hour to completely debone it.


The meat is than cooked in large iron pots ...


... after cooking the meat is hung on bamboo sticks to drip-dry, ready
for
for cooking latter on tonight.


Nothing is wasted, not the intestines, guts, ears, hooves, brain etc.
The inards were interesting. The guys gave me some grilled intestines
to sample during a drinking session, I had it with gin, quite nice really.


The men work through the rest of the night, generally drinking,
cooking and sampling some of
their own dishes.

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