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Moldavian Pig Slaughter (page 2 of 2)

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A friend brought me back pictures of a Moldavian family slaugthering a pig at home much like it was done all over Europe 100 year ago. Not for the faint-hearted.
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Start removing the intestines.

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Let's not shy away from the difficult bit - tying the pig's anus so that the intestines don't spill all over the courtyard. If you feel this sounds a bit horrific, I agree but people executed by poison in American prisons are also fit with an anal cork for the exact same reason, so if you are for the death penalty and do eat pig, you cannot afford to be shocked.

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A bucket for the fat (left) and one for the guts (right).

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A Moldavian with an axe starts splitting the carcass in two ...

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... until two usables slabs of meat are obtained.

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Slabs of fat are cut up in squares, salted and stored in jars. Out of parsimony and respect for the pig and the work entailed, the idea of these pig slaughtering rituals is not to lose one bit. In my Swiss canton of Valais, people used to say Dans le cochon, tout est bon, 'in a pig you can eat everything'.

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The pig's head can be used for sausages, pâtés or soups. I remember helping my uncle out preparing soup for 80 people at his house and he asked me to peel a pig's head. I couldn't!

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This pig didn't drink. The healty liver is removed from the bile bladder with great care. If you pierce this organ, it would ruin the rest of the meat with a vile green bitter liquid - bile.

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All in a days's work - the end product ready to be salted and dried.

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Here are three dishes made right after the slaughter to use up the guts. A blood sausage (left), Moldavian haggish (center) and a stew of other organs (right).

One final word - I did not enjoy writing this article nor looking at the pictures. But I do eat pig regularly and all over the world, people slaughter animals in their homes, pigs, lambs or cows. This is part of the meat-eating diet and to understand traditional recipes, who often call on offal, you need to understand slaughtering. For those who would want to write abusive comments about this please first check that you never have eaten any meat, because meat comes from the exact same process shown on this page, and most of the world's butchery animals are not free to roam outside before ending up on your table.


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  • #1
  • Comment by zeta
Hi fx,thanks for sharing. And no, I didn't find this gruesome or offensive at all. These people obviously treated the pig with a lot of respect, before and after its death. And it probably lived a much happier, more natural life then 99% of the pigs we - at least I - have ever eaten. And that includes "normal" organic raised pigs.
  • #2
  • Comment by Hannah
Hi FX. I found this post so interesting. I agree with you - the pictures are grotesque. Yet, this sort of butchery seems - on the whole - more humane and respectful than MUCH of what other pigs experience in more "advanced" countries.                                                                                                                                                                      Besides, the whole family is involved. All are pitching in to make sure the pig is processed completely with no waste. Good example. My guess is that their lives have a lot lower impact on the earth than ours that are set firmly in this century.So, all of that commentary to say: this post was lovely and more meaningful than a great deal of the rubbish I'll sort through today. Thanks!
  • #3
  • Comment by BK
I agree, this post is very educational. For a city boy like me, meat comes magically from the supermarkets. Now I know where the meat on the table comes from!
  • #4
  • Comment by Joanna
Great to see these photographs ... there's more respect for animals in this process than in going out and buying a battery chicken for dinner.Joannajoannasfood.blogspot.com
  • #5
  • Comment by Stephen J
I find your website one of the most enjoyable to read on the internet; while this story wasn't as lovely as the others, I applaud you for posting the pictures, which are very informative.  I look forward to reading future posts.  
  • #6
  • Comment by LD
Thank you for showing us the process of meat slaughtering. It was rather enlightening as many of us in the industrialized countries have never come across such ritual.
  • #7
  • Comment by Michael
I don't see how it's too different from walking into the 'boucherie' and looking at a slightly more carved up carcass of many animals.good article!
  • #8
  • Comment by Fein
Oh gosh. How bloody this is. But without meat I am nobody.
  • #9
  • Comment by Alex
GREAT article.  I wish I knew how to do all that stuff.  It's sad that my generation has lost so much practical knowledge.Also, good to see the pig enjoying his final cigarette.  
  • #10
  • Comment by ariun
Fascinating article! Thank you for posting it. One day you must come and see how Mongolians butcher sheep -- a quick slit over the heart, pinch off the valve, et voila. (Pork is less commonly eaten here, but pigs are butchered more or less the same way you described.)
  • #11
  • Comment by pedrito
Beautiful documentation of the reality of food, of good food, and of traditions worth noting and holding on to. This same sceen occurs every New Years in my Albuquerque neighborhood, near the Rio Grande, when the traditional Matanza takes place. A lovingly fattened pig gives its life for the new year and for the healthy, non-factory food sustenence of a New Mexican family. These pictures could be from my town.
  • #12
  • Comment by Alex de Berniere
But he was a beautiful pig!  Haha.  Fantastic article.  Very interesting.  I do wonder how long it took, from start to finish, to butcher the animal.  
  • #13
  • Comment by Nate
Thank you for this great article. I too didn't find it offensive at all. It's fascinating as well the all the comments seem so positive. After reading this, it actually makes me consider raising and butchering pigs myself.
  • #14
  • Comment by Suleyman
This is a horror film in Arabia.
  • #15
  • Comment by Madalin
Hello, nice article. I'm from Romania and, as you could imagine, I have seen many scenes like the  one you described. In fact, it's a custom to slaughter a pig every Christmas Eve around here. The details you give are more or less correct, but I will give you a little bit of information. Around here, if the family only has one pig which they grow all year, they also grow attached to him and before slaughtering him they give the pig some powerful beverage in order for him not to suffer too much. Also, the kids sitting on the carcass is just a pretext for the heat and vapor to soften up a bit the pig skin.
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
Thanks a lot for your feedback! I am glad you have been able to see it with the same eyes. My grandma used to raise a pig every year and slaughter it too, like Madalin's family.
  • #17
  • Comment by Maconga
Where I grew up, it was common to slaughter your own animals.  To prevent spoilage, the work was done in the fall and early winter when ambient temperatures were in the 30-50F range. Shocking to city folk, but just part of life in the country in those days.
  • #18
  • Comment by Nick
This was a very informative article.  I have taken part of some slaughters in the past (minus the killing part) and it's not glamorous, but it's part of the culture if you want some animal foods.  I loved this piece, glad to see that no one has been negative.
  • #19
  • Comment by celso
I'm from Brazil and when I was a child I saw a pig being killed like that; for us, that was nothing cruel or barbarous at all. It would be great for everyone to be closer to what we eat, and KNOW what we eat -- instead of doing like so many people who eat sausages without even a bare idea of what they are eating...
  • #20
  • Comment by Vizerdrix
Very well done article.  I don't know how anyone could find it gruesome!  I find it hard to believe some people do not know what is involved in the slaughter of our feed animals, although granted, this is much better than the poor beasts brought to slaughterhouses by the thousands.  I'm city-bred, but went fishing as a child and cleaned my own fish; same thing really.  I also helped my neighbour clean ducks after he went hunting.  I think it's something everyone should learn to do, at least once in their lives.
  • #21
  • Comment by Jewbacchus
I will say first that I'm a very reform Jew, so no kosher jokes.This was cool to see. It's good to have some perspective on where meat comes from, and to eat it if not more sparingly, at least with more respect to the fact that a life was lost for your meal.I feel obliged to do this at one point in my life.
  • #22
  • Comment by AK---
In Hungary it's really common too. I'm planning to go on a pig slaughter this winter. I kinda lost my roots by living in the city but still have nice memories of events like this when I was a kid. Nonetheless it's a great party as well, where you start drinking, strong, home-made liquors at 4 or 5 AM, and don't stop till a great dinner. ;)
  • #23
  • Comment by lacalaca
Yeah, it looks grotesque and bloody for an outsider, but if you see (and do) it from your childhood, its... hmm... normal? Oh, yeah, were you guys in a butchery lately? ;)I even have friends, who are adults (20-30 years old) and asked my father, if they could come and see (and even to do) it. Of course, the slaughter itself is done by the "hard guys" around 5-7 am, its is not for "tourists" :D.  And dont think we are barbarians or "pour post-kommunist" guys! (I'm hungarian.) Well, maybe these guys on the pics look like... sort of... :D
  • #24
  • Comment by leo
Fantastic photo-article. What a lovely porker! However, I can assure you that the sad undergoers of capital punishment in the US are not fitted with anal corks. To think so is just silly. As an ER worker for many years I can tell you that people don't automatically shit them selves when they die. Unless they happen to be mechanically squished.
  • #25
  • Comment by Emmett
Great photos. Hardly gruesome, or grotesque; your readers didn't get to see the pigs immediate reaction from being stabbed!  Very interesting, and reminiscent of the butchery of wild game I have hunted. First time witnesses to a butchery are certainly going to be squeamish, but I believe this sort of thing is a worldwide country-side phenomenon. Brings back great memories of my neighbouring family (they owned and ran a small butcher-shop) with whom I spent the holidays, over a well-cut, and well cooked piece of meat. Thanks for the article!
  • #26
  • Comment by mandz
That was so tastefully done. Ha Ha. Thanks, can you bring us more in the series. I will look at my little trays of pork from the supermarket with more respect. Would be hard to eat one of the family like some others have mentioned. Meat just tastes so good.
  • #27
  • Comment by parshu.narayanan
I found this not horrific, but relatively humane. In India, free-range dark, hairy "sewer" pigs are slaughtered in the slums in the most cruel way, by a heated crowbar being hammered up the anus and their anguished squeals are unbearable to hear.They are consumed by those on the bottom of the socio-economic scale, which goes down to sub-Saharan African levels or below. NGOs and other animal rights organizations are attempting to introduce the "kalimpong stroke" which is a long nail or knife driven straight into the heart, as done here. What happens after death is of course, irrelevant to the pig, and is purely cultural and subjective.
  • #28
  • Comment by Arne
I have just looked at the pictures (will read), but then you got my first impression: I love pork meat like any old beer-drinking pig! But once I did see a news report on animal transportation and general treatment in my EU... These days I need to drink all the beer before eating the pork. These images on the other hand make me want to be a reborn Moldovian pig. Fat luck, the way I am going I am gonna be born again a Belgium pig (THAT'S DEFINITION OF HELL!)
  • #29
  • Comment by Rachel
I love the way every single part of the pig is used, nothing is wasted.This whole process so much more natural then the pork we have in the UK and America, the pigs get a decent life, the meat isn't processed with junk etc.I'm a vegetarian and I have no problems with the way this animal was killed.I always say "if you can eat a cow, you can kill it too".Thank you for sharing!
  • #30
  • Comment by Cristi Roman
Yes, I can confirm. I live in Bucharest, Romania, and I must say that not only the Moldavia county of Romania is still full of archaic traditions, but, maybe, a major part of rural Romania. Personally, I disagree with these things, not because we are new members of EU now, but first of all, because of the suffering that these animals are forced to endure through the killing process. It's awful.Cristi Romanwww.papabun.blogspot.com
  • #31
  • Comment by Lorenzo Cairoli (http://cairoli.simplicissimus.it/)
Great Blog.I love this.Bravo.
  • #32
  • Comment by Daria Jewgodowa
I am just sad, what about going vegetarian instead of "beautiful killing"? I was born in an East European country and grew up with tons of meat and seeing things like that, and that is one of the reasons why I went vegetarian, as soon as I had the free choice and possibility to do it.Do you know, that most cannibal mass murderers talked about humans tasting like pig meat? It is not human and not "beautiful" to kill, and only the most poor of all people, who have no other food choices, are forced to eat animals. We, in the so called modern countries, with millions of vegetarian options, just show off nihilism and inhumanity continuing to kill for taste...
  • #33
  • Comment by ariun
"most cannibal mass murderers talked about humans tasting like pig meat?" -- Daria JewgodowaEvidence, please? Sources? Anyway, so what if humans taste like pork? We do not eat humans. It's like saying blood looks like tomato sauce, so we should all stop murdering poor innocent tomatoes. Get off your high horse, and look up the definition of "logical fallacy" before you think about getting back on again.
  • #34
  • Comment by JackWolf
Hi FX,I love your site.  It is my dream to eat Canard au Sang someday.This morning on the radio I heard that the EU is trying to end the New Year's slaughter of a pig in Romania by "traditional" methods because it's considered "inhumane".The EU wants to force people to use a specialized stun gun to dispatch the pig.Romanians are fighting this law because they only slaughter one pig a year and the stun gun is very expensive.Your thoughts?Keep up the good work!
  • #35
  • Comment by Roo
Great article. It wasn't scary for me and I have seen goats, sheep, cows and chickens being slaughtered hundreds of times. I am from Iran and back there old fashion families believe that you have to do it all yourself or bring a butcher home. Believe me the fresh meet and the organs like the liver and kidneys are great to be eaten when they’re fresh specially if you BBQ them.Keep up the good work!
  • #36
  • Answered by fx
Indeed - the freshest meat there is and the butchering is often way more humane than in commercial slaughterhouses.
If you can get me pictures of the traditional Persian slaughter you mention, I would be most pleased to publish them.
  • #37
  • Answered by fx
Yes the EU wants to impose its own values to people who live in very different circumstances. Let's hope they'll be allowed to keep their traditions. A stun gun is probably not too expensive to maintain one's culture. Thanks for visiting!
  • #38
  • Answered by fx
Thank you so much for your common sense ariun!
  • #39
  • Comment by Tarulwu, Tarulwu
Mmm... Nice site. I'm added you site to digg and stumble. All must know about it!Regards from LA, USA.
  • #40
  • Answered by fx
Thanks a lot for your visit and hope to see you around on my blog!
  • #41
  • Comment by courtney jones
dear madamme / sir,this webpage is very descriptive and helped me alot with my homework and it may have upset people but it didnt me so thank you for this is shall be recomending you to my teacher if we ever need it for our work.yours sinceirlycourtney jonesage 13
  • #42
  • Comment by Shadus
I grew up on a farm, I've personally helped butchered pigs, cattle, sheep, chickens, etc... nothing offensive about it.  The only one that ever gave me problems was when I was 7 and we butchered chickens, having to hold the chicken down as the head was chopped off combined with the smell of the scalding turned me off chicken for a little while.  There is something to be said for meat you raise, butcher, and prepare yourself... best stuff in the world.
  • #43
  • Comment by David
Again, an excellent article you've posted with very interesting information. I agree with the tenet that you should know where your food comes from to some degree. Great blog!
  • #44
  • Comment by mike
Hithanks for such an interesting and humane (yeah I love animals and I love eating meat so if the meat is good and the animal is/was happy that's fine buy me) article.  I do, however have a dilemma.  I'm the proud owner of a happy pig.  His days are numbered.  I'd like to know how/what to feed him for his last 2 months.  I'm quite keen for him to eat only organically produced stuff too...  I do hope you can  help.....
  • #45
  • Answered by fx
Mike I am not so appraised on pig food but I recall my grandma had a pig and she kept a separate trash for all leftovers and vegetable peels. It was known as the pig bucket and that was a staple on the pig's table. I hope this helps!
  • #46
  • Answered by fx
Shadus you are quite right, many people who grew up in daily proximity of animals who were later slaughtered have experiences conflicting feeling - cognitive dissonance as social psychologists have it.  One the one hand you like the chicken as a friendly pet and on the other hand you have to eat it. Seeing it up close is not so common nowadays.
  • #47
  • Comment by AURA
thanks FXI grew up in Romania and we used to slaughter the pigs for Christmas in exactly the same way.One thing I can tell you is this, that pig's meat will taste 10 times better than electrocuted pigs we eat in the UK.It just brought back happy memories of childhood, when i used to sit on the pig just like them little children.I hope this opens a lot of eyes, to people, we should be more aware of where our food comes from.  Frankly I would have pigs slaughtered like that for the whole of the year not only Christmas.  Well done to you and the Moldavian. This kind of experiences brings the whole family together,it's a time for sharing work, food,love, friendship... I wish people would be like that again, simple, uncomplicated, and happy to share everything they've got. Treat the animal that gave it's life to feed them with the respect it deserves. One thing I could never understand is why electrocute the pigs, then dip them in boiling water. What is that? The skin has not taste. Anyway I am glad you documented it.Aura
  • #48
  • Answered by fx
Aura I am glad to have contributed in my modest way to show that this pig slaughtering custom the Romanians share with their Moldavian neighours is far from the barbarity that some Eurocrats say it is, but is something that was done all over Europe only 50 years ago. I can understand that some people do not eat meat out of respect for the animals, but if you accept the idead of eating animals, then Romanian family butchering is certainly not one bit less humane (or more barbaric) than industrial slaughterhouses.
  • #49
  • Comment by mark
Wow! Thank you, imagine 3000 years ago when they used religion to control what you eat ...
  • #50
  • Answered by fx
Now we have advertisement and ubiquitous anemic supermodels to suggest we should eat as little as we can!
  • #51
  • Comment by danny
What is the point of burning it to eliminate hair? Seems crazy when all they want is the inside meat. All the extra stuff like that and sitting on it for good luck is what I think gets to be cruel. Dead or alive.
  • #52
  • Comment by Wanda
Very well documented.We used to slaughter our own beef but ended up sending the pigs to the abattoir as it is time consuming to remove the hair. When we did kill the pigs at home we used an old tub and chains to do this process rather than burning the hair off. Burning seems like a much simpler process.The hair is removed as it is coarse and we like to eat the skin as crackling, and there is nothing worse that getting a mouthful of harsh hair.Anyway FX I think your article will be an eye opener to many city folk who don't appreciate what goes on before meat ends up wrapped in plastic on a little plastic tray.Wandawww.only-cookware.com
  • #53
  • Answered by fx
Wanda, I agree that us city folks greatly benefit from seeing where our food comes from. Quite necessary before passing judgement on other people's customs!
  • #54
  • Comment by Franz
From where I'm from (I'm from an Asian country)... pig slaughtering is a traditional part of every occasion. There was one time when we went to the province to attend a wedding, and there was a live pig slaughter. I have seen 10 pig slaughters as of now and I do believe in the saying "the first definitely hurts". Well, I do believe that a pig really has to die to serve. That's a painful truth.
  • #55
  • Answered by fx
Franz, where do you come from? Do they use every single part of the pig in your country when slaughtering?
  • #56
  • Comment by Stuart Peachey
Burning the pig bristles off seems to be a Moldavian Romanian version. Here in England we scald and scrape off the hair. The pig traditionally is butchered and preserved in a very different way for slabs of rind on bacon and gammons, with "puddings" or sausages of the blood and liver. The European preserved long life sausage and slabs of smoked fat as a way of preserveing the meat is foreign to us. Traditional sausage here is consumed within a few days of making although a little may be smoked.
  • #57
  • Answered by fx
Stuart, have you seen pig slaughter in England nowadays? I would expect that regulations would have slaughtered that tradition, but perhaps people still do itt? We also make short-life sausages in continental Europe to use the offal, but other sausages use fat and muscle to ensure longer conservation.
  • #58
  • Comment by Yit
I'm asian too, and from what i know us Chinese do eat every part of the pig. My favourite is black pepper pig stomach soup. And yes, slaughtered pigs do taste infinitely better than tased ones. Pig is an important part of Chinese weddings as well, i think i've been immunised to the sight of a whole suckling pig sitting on a table in full view of everyone.
  • #59
  • Answered by fx
Yit, we have pig stomach soup in the West too although I can't say I care for that one! Suckling pigs are served with an apple in the mouth in France. Thanks for visiting!
Wow! I found your site through your interview with isitEdible. I have to say thanks for sucha thourough article. There are people in my life who take meat and food for granted. They play with their food or throw so much away. The do not value food preparation. Have you ever noticed that so many of the world's cultures have so many eating and food rituals? So many cultures give thanks, say a blessing, or respect food. I think it is because the ancient people saw that for people to live something else must die.
  • #61
  • Answered by fx
Joel thanks for visiting! Indeed traditional cultures have a greater proximity to the food they eat and respect it more than we do as there is less of it and they know exactly how much work was involved in making it.
  • #62
  • Comment by Sabrina
That was interesting.... but very cruel at the same time!! and i do agree w/ you that it is cruel!!
  • #63
  • Comment by Marius
I have lived for many years in rural Romania, in a hillside town. I've seen this a million times. It is not gruesom or "dirty" or anything. It's the circle of life itself. The only hard moment is when you actually kill the animal (pig, cow, sheep, birds etc.)That's when you really show your respect and gratitude for the animal. It's the time of truth and that's what it is all about. You feel sorry, but you will respect tha animal by usig everything that it gives you. I don't agree killing a pig whit a pistol. It makes everything impersonal and cold.
  • #64
  • Answered by fx
Marius, thanks for offering this insight of how people live with animals, slaughter and eat them. I think most city folks have a very difficult time to reconcile the petting animal with the food and prefer is that junction is made in the darkness. They'd rather forget that the meat they eat was an animal that lived. Your insight shows the greater maturity of people who accept this rather than put their head into the ground.
  • #65
  • Comment by Ron
Growing up in Saskatchewan, my Romanian family butchered pigs every fall(Sept). Process was identical and the straw burning gave a beautiful flavour. We humanely shot the pigs with a .22 cal rifle in the brain(my job as a young teen), and then cut the throat and jugulars. My grandfather always disappeared till after the killing. He fed the pigs all year and was very fond of them, almost his pets. The moldavian haggish (haggis) brings back good memories. I think it had buckwheat in it instead of rolled oats(Scottish).
  • #66
  • Comment by vtnt
Haha... this brings back memories..I used to "ride" the pig as a child too..in the old days only straw was used to roast the pig's fur.. The blowtorch is of recent use..doing it with a blowtorch is faster but the smell is not the same.. and also the pig's tail is a fine treat for the small children,not only the ear tips :)
  • #67
  • Answered by fx
Ron I am glad you were able to keep your family tradition in Canada! Did your pigs die a clean and fast death even with such a small caliber? Do you recognize any of the dishes in the article as the Moldavian Haggis?
  • #68
  • Answered by fx
Riding the pig might be a way to divert the kids' attention from the pig's bitter end. He's been a family pet for a year sometimes, so I guess not everybody was glad to see him go!
  • #69
  • Comment by Thuan
Great article. No food is better than something home raised/grown, home prepared, and home cared.
  • #70
  • Comment by Jim
Wonderful looking pork, and good article. However, I do find the lads playing with the head and putting cigarettes in the pigs mouth disrespectful.
  • #71
  • Comment by returned PCV
I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Moldova (not Moldavia) and experienced this same sight every year. While gruesome, they do treat the animal with respect during its life and during the slaughter. I believe if more people saw their dinner go from fully functional animal, to a slab of meat on a plate, they might become a vegetarian as I did during my time in Moldova.
  • #72
  • Comment by Jose
As a professional cook (I cook for a living, not "chef" for a living) I found the piece very informative.  I am a meat-eater and it would be absurd for me to be this way if I didn't believe in slaughtering the meat I eat.

I recently slaughtered 2 pigs that I raised along with my father-in-law and my 5 year-old son asked me if he could come watch us cut the meat.  I told him that as long as he felt comfortable being in the area and as long as he showed the animal the respect that it deserves, we were fine with this.  He helped us put the wrapped meat away while we taught him where bacon, chops and sausages come from.
  • #73
  • Answered by fx
Sarah, I agree that seeing where your meat is coming from is more than most people could stomach nowadays!
  • #74
  • Answered by fx
Jose, thanks for visiting and sharing your insight into this tricky problem of reconciling our love of meat with its source and the fine animals we kill for it. I'm glad your son could help you without much fuss - a future chef perhaps!
  • #75
  • Comment by Vinny
Simply barbaric, no other word to describe this...and who feel proud about any custom and tradition are living in the dark ages when sacrificing animals was considered a good thing.Living in the 21st century and still talking about raising a pig every year and slaughtering it near Christmas in the name of tradition is simply idiotic, and 'humane slaughter' is even more idiotic.

Anyway, its the tongue that makes people do all this, who cares about traditions and bla bla.Put yourself in the pig's position once.
  • #76
  • Answered by fx
I think they eat the pig - there is no religious ritual going on there.
  • #77
  • Comment by Maven
In many parts of the US there are still people who do this, I know, I'm one.  It looks just like when we process meat for the freezer except our hogs are the feral sort and shot on the hoof...and for the person who finds this barbaric, you should thank whatever deity you believe in that your ancestors didn't feel the same way or you wouldn't be here.  There were no vegetarians in the ice age.  Humans, like bears, are omnivores.
  • #78
  • Answered by fx
Maven, I agree that self-righteous illiterate city pricks have no business judging these fine country folks and calling them barbarians because they don't eat tofu.
  • #79
  • Comment by john davies
Hi i would like to thank you for your frank potrayal of the slaughter and butchery of the pig.I am moving to a remote village in bulgaria and i intend to rear my own animals for the table,the biggest animal i have butcherd is a rabbit so your pictures and pictures will serve me well all the best.John
  • #80
  • Comment by Rob
I am 18 years old and I'm an art student at college researching the ethical killings of animals for my next project and would like to thank you on this insight into a cultural slaughtering. I'm not really sure about my opinion on it at the moment as I'm trying to look at both sides but your photographs, although quite graphic, I think are very very good, especially the one taken after you had stabbed the pigs heart. I had no idea how much you could do with an animalthis was really useful and please reply to me as I would be interested in your views and opinions
  • #81
  • Answered by fx
John, homesteading in Bulgaria sounds tempting and adventurous, I wish you guys the best of luck. You will undoubtedly find locals with experience in home butchering. Myself I eat like a pig and couldn't think of actually slaughtering one!
  • #82
  • Answered by fx
Rob, thanks for your email! Please consider that what these people do is exactly what people, my grandparents included, used to do all over Europe only 50 years ago. So any comments about religion, symbolism, culture must be, I think, turned rather towards us who are shocked by the discover that the meat we buy in clean supermarket refrigerators is the fruit of the slaying of animals we'd rather pet than kill. Why can't we accept this? Why do we need to reconcile our eating meat with our love for animals through some 'ethical ways of killing'? I think these are the real questions.
  • #83
  • Comment by FX
Everyone Needs to know how we get our food. there is no shame in feeding yourself or others. We eat..that is what we do. Hats off to this site.
  • #84
  • Comment by Chris DePaoli
Bonjour-- I have 2 questions (J'ai deux questions?:) 1) Do you know if these people(in Moldavia)produce anything with the pig's jowls, similar to the Italian "Guanciale?"  
2)When they slaughter the animal, do they intentionally avoid severing the spinal column? Even though the blood is prized by these people, I was wondering if they avoid severing the spinal column to keep the heart pumping as long as possible (i.e., to bleed the animal to death as quickly as possible.) Merci pour votre attention.
  • #85
  • Answered by fx
Chris, I'm afraid I don't know the answers to your questions but will ask my friend who took the pictures. I sure hope the pig lost consciousness really fast.
  • #86
  • Comment by AMANDA
WOW!  Incredible photo's.  Thank you
  • #87
  • Comment by Kiara Wolski
That is the grossest thing I ever saw, but I'm not writing a complaint. I'm writing to congratulate you that you had the guts to put this article together and get the photos and what not else it took. Congrats!
  • #88
  • Answered by fx
Kiara, thanks for visiting and overcoming the natural disgust one experiences when seeing an animal being butchered. An important thing for any meat eater to see at least once in our life!
  • #89
  • Comment by Karl
I am a great fan of your site both the grotesque (deep fried Mars bar) which by the way I have eaten and and it was actually really good in a fast food kind of way to the sublime and there are so many, you asparagus like green peas I think is such a fantastic concept that I will have as soon as I get some top notch asparagus.
And regarding this piece I see nothing grotesque in this at all but I am grown up on the country side of sweden and used to do our own sausages from buying a half a pig from the next door farmer and do the whole thing ourselves for christmas and many other kind of other animals as well, reindeer, beef, hare's and you name it.
If you wish to have a good idea on how to prepare food and more then anything else judge quality of meat and produce this is the way to go.
I thought the idea of burning and smoking the carcass prior to cutting up the animal was really interesting.
I would love the continued story what is done to other parts of the animal for preservation of meat, the piece of lard/skin in salt in jars I would really like to find out how they use that for example.
Thanks for a great site.
  • #90
  • Comment by Karl
I wrote priorly a post and I had to share a memory of a documentary I saw when I was a child in Sweden about hunting and preparing wild boar in Germany.
It was a hunting party that had shoot a wild boar and was cooking it over a open fire.
The recipe was very simple since (well at least as I remember) all they did was to gut the boar and take out the intestines and fill the cavity with an enormous amount of whole black pepper corns and I do believe some salt but that was it, they stitched the stomach together and put it on a stick through mouth and out through the anus and simply grilled the whole animal over an open fire.
This must have taken a very very very long time but I can't remember how long but since then I have had a desire to try this ever since I saw this documentary some 25-30 years ago
If anybody has an experience of the kind of recipe it would be great to hear more about it so I will be prepared when I get my shoot at cooking a wild boar this way, fat chance that is since I live in Iceland and the is no wild boars here at all.
Thanks again for a great site.
I will try to photograph the way the icelanders prepare the lamb heads they eat here for you and the hooves of the lamb as well by first burning of the hair and blackening the skin and then leaving it in whey until they soften. You have to remember that this was a country that did not have that many sources of food in the old days and yes they did eat EVERYTHING on an animal
  • #91
  • Answered by fx
Karl, thanks for visiting and I'm so glad to hear that in Sweden too there is a good farming tradition of home butchering. If you know anybody who could get me similar pictures for a reindeer I'd be most happy to make an article!
If you liked the asparagus recipe hold on, I have two more ready to publish, one of them historical, one my own invention.
kind of nasty but when they done it{looks awesome} i love it
A friend of mine has taken up hunting and processing animals such as you have outlined above.  Being born and raised in NY, the whole thing makes me sort of squeamish but I'm going to pass your page on to her so she can see the above depiction.

One of my favorite foods is pork liver, wrapped in caul fat with a bay leaf.  Glorious on the grill!  You can only find them at Italian butchers.  It's been years since I had them!

  • #94
  • Comment by bilibel
I am also Romanian (like many of your readers), living currently in Switzerland. Your article brought back absolutely beautiful memories and I'd wish everyone could eat at least once in their life "tochitura", freshly made. There is nothing better in the culinary world than organic, non-chemical, non-frozen porc meat prepared the way presented in your photos. The pieces of lard are later on used in cooking (as grease), baking (instead of butter) or smoked as they are and eaten, with cheese, paprika and a drink of palinca. You want my advise: visit rural Romania before it will be spoiled by EU rules. I recently came back from a trip in Danube Delta and ...God, I miss the fish dishes...And for a little moment of history, Moldavia is also a Romanian land, the population speaks Romanian. Moldova, as a province was split in two and now one half is part of Romania and one half is a "new country". Thank you for your article FX!
  • #95
  • Answered by fx
Bilibel, I just received an amazing Romanian cookbook and am most interested to visit Vlad Dracul's, Mircea Eliade's and Eminescu's fatherland!
  • #96
  • Comment by Sveta
Interesting photos and articles.

Only  some information in the begging is not the whole truth. I mean this one - Moldavians live much like we did a hundred years ago. The Moldavian's parents have electricity but no running water and no heating system in most of their house.

I lived in Moldova, my grands are living in village and I often visit them now, also I was in different part of country, not only the big cities. So I know what I say about living in Moldova. So it seams it's not correct to say like you say about Moldova and it's people.

  • #97
  • Answered by fx
Sveta, thanks you for your visit, I did not mean to demean the Moldavians in any way and just admired that they managed to keep the customs that we lost many years ago.
Hi, thankyou so much for putting up this article.  I found your article while  googling the keywords 'pig fire scrape' to see how others go about this process.  I am a Hog hunting guide in New Zealand, I take clients out in search of wild European boar(Sus Scrofa)that have roamed in our forests since the 1800's. The clients stalk and shoot their pig, then I butcher it for them once we return to our hut. Some clients prefer their pigs to be skinned, others wish to have the skin left on but de-bristled. In my experience, retaining the skin on pork is vital in locking in precious moisture and fat, especially as the Sus Scrofa breed is very lean and the meat easily becomes dry and tough without close attention when cooking.

In NZ we either scald the pig in a bath or use a blow torch as you have described. I tend to use the blow torch method as Scalding is very time consuming in the set up, no good when clients are waiting to return home after their hunt.  Although I use a blow torch, the Moldovian method you have described appears to result in a much more aesthitically pleasing and presumably tastier result.  While I simply blow torch and scrape the pig as the hair burns and melts, the moldovian method seems to differ in that the whole pig is torched, then burnt in the straw and then flashed with water before the scraper goes anywhere near the pig (is this correct?).  The NZ method (the way I was taught) looks a lot rougher in the finish than the nice job the moldovians did.  

I will try the Moldovian method within the next few weeks with the goal of obtaining a cleaner finished product.

As for grotesque, I can think of nothing more grotesque than loading animals onto a truck and then having them penned at the slaughter house, waiting for their impending death while the smell and sounds of killing overwhelm their senses for hours and hours. One day, we might even see an article describing the Moldovians as using an advanced method of humane killing, such is the irony of our politically correct world. And as for vegetarians, be thankful that you have the luxury of modern air transportto fly you your fresh greens when those of your own country are unable to grow when they are out of season.

Sometimes when I see people pass coment on the morality of killing for food, one factor becomes glaringly obvious to me- that is- those who are against it the most and call for people to be more 'evolved' are in my opinion, thrusting their own sense of guilt and lack of self acceptance on to society.  To me, being evolved means accepting all parts of ourselves.  Just like pigs (and dogs, we are creatures of opportunity. We take life and eventually our lives must expire to make room for others.

A while ago, I ran out of meat to feed my dog and needed to go hunt a goat, but as my wife was out, I would have to take my two year old daughter with me.  I thought the excersize would be very interesting as I would be able to observe her un-adulterated thought processes during the hunt.  When I first shot the goat, my daughter, watching from behind, became sad and cried for the goat.  When we got to the goat, I told her that I had to shoot it for Bosley's dinner. Following this, I skinned open a leg and cut off a piece of meat which the dog promptly swallowed.  I sat quietly while my daughter took it all in.  After a moment she turned from the goat, looked at me and said "daddy, Bozzy hungry, more goat for Bozzy" When I cut the next piece, my daughter insisted that she take the piece of meat and give it to the dog herself and so it went on.  It seems to me that my daughter pretty much figured out the whole thing for herself, that is to say, Bosley had to eat so the goat had to die to feed Bosley, end of story
  • #99
  • Answered by fx
Nathan, thank you for your hands-on and articulate account of your practical philosophy of hunting and eating meat. Nowadays most people are like holier-than-thous, they eat meat and put leather shoes on their feet but despise the idea of hunting or slaughtering an animal. While I can understand that a city person can find a pig slaughter a revolting sight, they have no business disrespecting the people who do it like their ancestors did. Even my grandparents used to slaughter pigs like these fine Moldavians. Or they should like like faithful Jains and abstain from any meat, leather, eggs and wear a gaze veil over the mouth by fear of inhaling an insect and destroying its life.

I'd be most interested if you had pictures of one of these wild hogs slaughter, an article about hunting would be most interesting on this site. Let me know if that's possible for you and we can discuss the specifics by email.
Thank you.
  • #100
  • Comment by Patricia Reeves
I found this article very interesting.  As we only eat meat that we raise ourselves, and are about to slaughter our first 2 pigs, I was fascinated at the burning process.  I was actually trying to find the temperature of water used to take the hair off the dead animal - but this looks like another option we can consider.  I like the idea of a smokey flavour. Also, great to actually see pictures - it gives me a much better idea of what to expect.  As long as we rear our animals naturally with integrity and respect and kill them as humanely as possible, I am happy to eat the meat. Thanks for a great article - I am looking forward to all the great food my pigs will supply.
  • #101
  • Answered by fx
Patricia, good luck with your pigs and I really think that the burnt straw is the way to go for tasty meat!
  • #102
  • Comment by Chris Van Gorder
Very informative. Great pictures. Thank you
  • #103
  • Comment by Chris Van Gorder
I completly disagree with anyone that thinks this is inhumane treatment of animals. When God created humans, He said "let them rule over all the living creatures that move along the ground".(Genesis 1:28)  He also said to Noah after the flood "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you.  Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. (Genesis 9:3) He gave us spirits. He did not give animals spirits, but they are for us.
  • #104
  • Comment by Hamza
Thanks FX. I am a practicing Muslim and I slaughter my own sheep during my two religious celebrations. I commend you for posting this article. Not fun stuff, but when people see the work and sacrifice (animal side) that goes into a bite of meat, then people are more appreciative of protein and what had to go into it to get it. Its been lost on todays generation, where to many, meat is conveniently and innocently pre-packaged and G rater, hence no idea of the value of eating meat.

Thanks again.
  • #105
  • Answered by fx
Hamza, thank you for your visit! I would very much like to include a traditional muslim sheep slaughter as is done by muslims living in Europe. Recently a muslim friend narrowly survived an automobile accident and offered a whole sheep to her family, but the pictures were not good enough to publish.
  • #106
  • Comment by Jim
Hi fx. great article. I've never killed a pig but have put down a number of small animals for humane reasons and can assure you that a .22 cal. bullet placed at the point the spinal cord enters the brain does the job instantly and as humanely as it can be done. I don't like killing things and would join the Grandfather referred to in one post and disappear if possible but  I'll be sure to show up for the eating! Thanks again for a very informative and enjoyable site and fine art quality photos.
  • #107
  • Answered by fx
Jim, thanks for visiting! The point here is that these people kill pigs by stabbing them, much like Muslims and Jews do it, and some people in the EU think this is less palatable than a bullet in the back of the neck. Nobody disputes that the bullet is less painful but should the Moldavians be prohibited to kill pigs like this? The pig died in less than 40 seconds, my friend told me.
  • #108
  • Comment by Jim
Hi again FX. In post #67 you had questioned whether a .22 cal. bullet would do the job. My experience says yes. I invite all gov't bodies cordially to go to hell and leave me (and you) alone as long as we're not harming one another. Those guys in India with the hot iron bar (post #27) may require a different approach. Maybe a taste of the bar for them. I have no problem with folks slaughtering their animals by their own methods but flagrant cruelty is a different matter. I liked your comment about "self righteous, illiterate city pricks" (#78). Thanks again for a very cool site. And yeah, I appreciate the guts needed to post this article and then to defend it well.
  • #109
  • Answered by fx
Jim, thanks for clarifying, indeed you are right. More of the same might be on the way - a boar this time!
Fantastic article. I have been to many Andalusian Matanza! it is unique to see such an well documented experience! that is so hard to explain unless you are actually there ! I am greatly enjoying your site. you have great passions !
  • #111
  • Answered by fx
Fingal, thanks for visiting! where could I see an Andalusian matanza? How does it work? Are there some remote villages where one could see it?
  • #112
  • Comment by Károly
I've been to a couple of pig slaughterings as a kid as well (I live in Hungary) and they were all very similar to the one described here.
My aunt and uncle raise chickens and ducks while my grandmother stuffed her own geese full of corn, making them fat in time for the slaughter. My parents and grandparents don't think it's gruesome at all to kill animals for food. Somehow it's much more respectable to do it all yourself.
  • #113
  • Answered by fx
Karoly, thanks for your comment, I would very much like to visit Hungary once and make an article about your giant (super giant!) sausages where every meat inside the pig is included. I saw this in my Könneman book about Hungarian cooking, most impressive!
  • #114
  • Comment by SMJ
This was an interesting article my grandparents, mother and her two brothers lived on a farm in pennsivania and he was a part time butcher, and had the meat cutting tools to use when he'd butcher an animal, and when the neighbor would ask him to come and butcher their animal he'd come with my mom as his asssistant. hey yes it was a gross but fasinating article on animal butchering but that was back then and thats how people lived on the farm then.
  • #115
  • Answered by fx
SMJ indeed it's quite a gross sight, agreed, but if we eat meat we need to accept that this is where it's coming from. Our grandparents were not so fussy.
  • #116
  • Comment by florin
The pictures you displayed on your site are taken in a rather poor household in Moldavia, not the best exponent of what really happens. I am Romanian, neighbor country closely related right up to the post WW2 Russian occupation, so I have a pretty good idea of what this is.
While this might see brutal and unjustified, remember this is exactly what happens in a slaughter house in the civilized world, but on a lesser scale. The custom is to slaughter the pig a few days before Christmas, one pig per family (notice I said "the pig", not "a pig"). I dare you to compare that to the avg. amount of meat you consume and see how it does.
What I can also tell you is that this is not entirely the traditional way it's done. Historically, the pig was not bought, but raised using the whey left over from making cheese from the family cow, corn grew by the family on it's fields and various vegetables not suitable for human use from the vegetable garden.
Pigs are not traditionally kept in that filthy, muddy shed, but in a wooden barn with a small mud field where the pigs dig a hole and bathe in the mud to shield off the summer's heat. The barn itself is bedded with fresh straw and changed frequently.
When slaughtering time comes the children and weak tempered women are sent away while the pig is laid down by a skilled villager with one long sharp knife blow. The pig's hair is then burnt off with straw, not a gas flame then the singed top skin layer is shaved off.
The pig is then portioned, the meat goes for cooking, making sausages (all natural, using the intestines as the membranes) and the ham is salted and smoked together with the sausages. The sausages and some fried meat are conserved in fat ready to be eaten later in time.
This is not exactly barbarism, but rather a sustainable ecosystem that you can also find, for example,  in Italy's history (Panchetta made from pigs fed on the whey left over from making Mozarella and some of the grain they grew), and I'm sure you can relate this to your country's history as well.

Well, after all this you should know this is starting to fade away here as well, as more people leave the country side for cities, where there's no room for any of the steps leading up to this.

I wish you all the best.
  • FX's answer→ Florin, thanks for this precious insight! Would you know where I could see a whey pig raised in a family farmhouse and its slaughter, in Romania or Moldavia?

  • #118
  • Comment by florin
I suppose the best idea would be to visit one of the traditional markets in the center of the country, most likely the Sibiu area.
You can find there most of the traditional products and foods in Romania, from the cheeses (plain, smoked, preserved in tree bark, to sheep's pastrami, the pig sausages, preserved meat, salami, ham and everything else made of pig, to the smoked trout, the wild berries, game meat (deer and boar are the most common, but bear is also available some time). Then there's butter, honey and all the wild berries picked from the sides of the mountains where the sheep graze.
The makers of these products are regularly featured on TV and most will be happy to have you as a guest in their home, to witness the making of their products. It's also one of the few places you could find pigs slaughtering outside the Christmas period.
  • FX's answer→ Florin, thanks for your tips, I will definitely add this to my must-see in Romania list!

  • #120
  • Comment by Jerry C
thank you for the article,..I have been thinking of a vegetarian lifestyle for some time now, and the desription has made up my mind to remove meat from my diet...
I'm not a true vegan because I have no problem  eating eggs or dairy products, (the animal is not slaughtered in these cases),...the article should help people realize how the meat gets to end up in the meat counter
  • FX's answer→ Jerry indeed we are far from Vegan land in this article!

hi again fx! just got hooked on your blog and have been exploring it for a while, i am a 'house chef' and agree in the inconmesurable powers of food cooked with love for the ones you care. in mexico city [my hometown] they have a dish named 'pozole', it's a wonderful stew of pig, tomato, and a kind of big, white maize [corn] called 'maiz pozolero' and some chili then it's topped up with lettuce and raddish and onions you should throw in some oregano [to each's taste] and crushed chili, this is one variant, in the coast they put some deep fried pigskin [chicarron] and even sardines too, while using green tomato instead of red [different varieties, not unmatured tomatoes] hence naming both 'green' or 'red' pozole, anyways, in any respactable 'pozoleria' [pozole shop] they will have a cooked pig's head [you throw it in the stew, for flavour] near the huge pot where the pozole is kept warm, and you can order your pozole with some of the head's external meat on it... kinda gruesome for some ppl but delicious... in singapore [where i live] they are big fans of 'pig's organ soup' probably i'll have the courage to try it one day... cheers!
  • FX's answer→ Luis, thanks for visiting! I would love to see the preparation of an hard-core Pozole with the pig head.

  • #124
  • Comment by beth
I am glad that you posted this, as I have a couple pigs that were left on my property by a renter, and I intend to eat them. This gives me a better idea of a butchering process I can do myself, with out having a huge barrel of boiling water to dunk a huge heavy pig in.
thank you for posting this.
  • FX's answer→ Beth, ideally you should find some old country person who has done it in the past. Apparently the pig dies very fast, then it's a matter of draining the blood and finding a use for all the meat.

i respect the fact that this is traditional but i a 16 year old girl who is totally against all of this.
i feel so sorry for these animals who go through this
no matter if they had a good life why should they be killed just for you to eat them
it is not a celebration and for people who think that i am wrong in saying this contact me on this website www.bebo.com/stopanimalcr i belive all animals should be let free die free let nature take its corse not butcher them or scold them alive
ive seen many horrible things while researching and if you visit my website you will find a video that shows just how cruel nimals are treated i dont belive that any animal should die just for celebration that is cruel and disrespectful.
neither do i think that animals should be made sacrifise why should they die just because people have their beliefs animals  dont have a say in any of this and if they did what do you think they would say
think about the pain they go through
would you like to be in their possition?
certainly not so dont put them in one.
  • #127
  • Comment by jens
Great photography!
  • FX's answer→ Thanks, in fact those were taken by my friend Zed.

  • #129
  • Comment by Rei
We Asian (chinese) people eat everything as well, as said by previous posters above.

But I don't think anyone mentioned that even the ears are used. One of my favourite indulgences is eating marinated pigs ears. The cartilage makes it crunchy and it is delicious.

I don't know how you would use the pig's blood, but we ferment it or put gelatin in it, and then cut it into cubes. It can be served in soups.
  • FX's answer→ Rei, thanks for these details! In fact here in Europe we used to have all sorts of recipes for pig foot and ears and nose and blood, but people now like to think of bambi and eat meat assuming it's grown like tofu.

  • #131
  • Comment by Gino
  • FX's answer→ Thank you

  • #133
  • Comment by Rosa
Hello FX - I stumbled upon your website while browsing for flying/pilots. But that's another story for another time.

Anyway, I am Asian (Filipino-Chinese) and witnessed a pig slaughter when I visited relatives in the Philippine Islands.  It was for the town fiesta (celebration).  They did not torch the pig hair off, but instead used scalding water on the dead pig to remove the hair. Yes, I was freaked out at first, but then I do enjoy meat and decided it was educational - witnessing the process of how meat gets to the supermarkets and my table!

They used the pork meat to cook many traditional dishes like:
Adobo, chunks of pork in garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaf, whole black peppercorns - I think this is the country's national dish;
Crispy Pata, deep-fried pig's leg, crispy and delicious;
Hamonado, pork sweetened in pineapple sauce and plated on top of pineapple slices;
Afritada, a tomato-based stew with potatoes, carrots, garlic, red pepper -one of the dishes inherited from the Spaniards who ruled the Philippines for 300+ years (the country was discovered by Magellan who named it after Philip II of Spain);
Sinigang, pork simmered in tamarind stew, with bokchoy.

As for pig blood:  
It was used in a dish called DINUGUAN (dee-noo-goo-ahn) which comes from the Filipino word for blood ("dugo").  Filipinos euphemistically call the dish "Chocolate Meat" in English, to make it more savory to the squeamish.
The dish uses pork meat, innards and pig's blood with garlic, chili and vinegar - resulting in a rich, dark, thick gravy stew.  One eats it with round, bite-sized Filipino rice cakes called Puto. Or on top of rice.
My husband (westernized, white Anglo-Saxon) seemed to enjoy his first few bites (hey, it's "Chocoloate meat!") until he was told it had pig's blood.
It's an acquired taste...

Oh, the highlight was Lechon, a WHOLE roasted baby pig (cooked on a spit for many hours, while one of the workers kept basting a butter/fat concoction on the pig skin to keep it moist), then placed in a position of honor at the center of the table.  The pig skin pulls off easily and is so crunchy and yummy.

Thank you for your wonderful, inspiring blog.  I have now spent several hours browsing and have bookmarked.  Lots of great ideas for gastronomic expeditions.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks a lot flying Rosa, I have to try this now!

  • #135
  • Comment by Duke
Interesting indeed. I grew up witnessing and participating in the slaughter of many pigs during my youth. It was just part of growing up when I was young. I am 47 now. I do miss it. Only because it brought all my family and neighbors together and we all shared in the experience. My grandfather on my mothers side had his own piggery for years. My fathers father didn't but his family always bought pigs and slaughtered their own whenever there was a graduation party, baby party, wedding etc, etc, etc,. We knew the people who raised and fed these animals so we were never afraid to eat the meat. But these days who knows what the put into our food. Anyway I enjoyed viewing your site, it brought back lots of memories. Thanks.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Duke, in which country did you grow up?

  • #137
  • Comment by crofter
Nice article, i have recently over the past 3 years been slaughtering my own pigs, i love the way the hairs are dealt with, we hang the pig up and shave it with boiling water which is extremely hard work & very bad for you knifes. i must say that i did not eat pig until i had my own & i feel that being close to the animal ( not emotionally but living with, looking after, killing & processing) you are going to eat is an important part of being a omnivore, or it should be.
  • FX's answer→ Crofter, how do you feed your pigs?

  • #139
  • Comment by Curt
I grew up on a farm and when I was a kid we slaughtered hogs and cows every year.  I am well aware of where the meat on my table comes from.  I think that if more people were raised with this understanding they would be much better off and not so "shocked" with stories such as this.  The animals that we slaughtered were treated with great respect, and none of the animal was waisted.  As my Grandmother used to say about the hogs, "We use everything but the squeel."
  • FX's answer→ Thanks for your insight Curt!

  • #141
  • Comment by Alex Cooper
Interesting. Not offensive. Actually informative.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks!

  • #143
  • Comment by john parker
this is more about the comments than the article i have live on a farm all my lifein ohio we do this same stuff on a monthly basies i am glad that there are some people here in this world that unstanded some what of what we do and why we do it now please keep  spreading the word so the other people will let people  like me live as i was riased and trained by my father and grandfather to do thank
  • #144
  • Comment by lana
I was raised on a farm , my parents still slaughtere animals like this , =))
  • FX's answer→ Lana, in which country did you grow up?

  • #146
  • Comment by Julius
Great article! I think that anyone who barks about "barbaric" and "dark ages" needs to get off of their high horse. I eat meat and I feel like it would be pretty thoughtless and disgraceful of me not to recognize the work done to get that meat for me. I think that there's nothing more hypocritical than eating meat every day while shuddering at pictures of the kinds of things that farmers see every day, and then getting all preachy about it. It is emblematic of the isolation of our modern times.

(going off on a tangent) And Vinny, if you think that we are more "civilized" or even more "humane" than our distant ancestors, think again. They were just as smart as us. They weren't reliant on electricity, but technology that they understood. They weren't more barbaric than us. They lived in a world where life was harder, less certain, and therefore more precious. The "Dark Ages" gave us Vikings and famine, yet that pales in comparison to the 20th century, which gave us World War I, Hitler, Stalin, and the atom bomb, along with countless other persecutions and human rights violations. I'd say that modern urbanized man also needs to get off his high horse too. (end of tangent)

Anyway great article!

Eat More Haggis
  • #147
  • Comment by Lizzie
First, your website, cooking and photos are amazing!  I am astonished one person can do all of this!

I appreciate this photo essay, and the value of honesty that you are demonstrating.  I would like to add that if we are concerned at all about how an animal feels, during life and during death, really the only thing that matters is an animal's suffering.   This may seem like a circular statement, but I'm reading lots of comments that use words such as  "respect" and "tradition".  To me those are clearly alibis, intended to justify and buffer us from  the pain of slaughter.   If we want to eat meat, it's not things like "cultural tradition" that should convince us it's ok.   The thinking should be based on asking the question- have we done everything we can to reduce the animal's misery?   So actually, though it's obviously not "traditional" in any sense (including the sentimental sense), stunning an animal before killing it would be a tremendous improvement over simply stabbing it outright.  (Despite other horrific living conditions for cattle killed for food in the US, at least they are legally required to be stunned before slaughter.)    likewise, I think most of us would agree that a clean shot to the head is preferable than being knifed in the heart, which is clearly much much better than being skewered in the anus with a hot rod, to burn from the inside out (as a commenter describe commonly occurs in sections of India.)

Then, after the slaughter occurs, nothing matters to the animal anymore.  Not our impressive efficiency in "using every part of the animal", not the fact that we made an especially artful sauce with its body parts, nothing.  Those details have to do with our feelings, but certainly not the animal's.
  • #148
  • Comment by Luz Mery
Hola Me gusto mucho tus comidas,las fotos un poco brutales,pero al final tiene su recompensa.Y aqui les muestras a muchos que el cerdo nada se desaprovecha todo se come.Lo digo por que aqui en suiza todo lo tiran.Bueno un saludo
  • #149
  • Comment by greg
Great article, my family has 4 acres in Georgia and we now have chickens, rabbits and our one pig, which being from Chicago I never thought would happen!  The pig is getting pretty large and we are looking through the net to find the best way to slaughter and butcher the pig.  Yours so far is the only web site that warns of the bile, which is important and your pictures are very good.  I thing we will use a 22 and then cut his throat as quickly as possible and then use the boil method.  
  • #150
  • Comment by A. D.
I am Romanian from Banat, and I have seen many pig slaughters. When I was a child, I have done my job by providing hot water to wash the intestines. Lighted myself the straws to burn off the bristles. Scraped them too. They are gentle creatures and they deserve our respect.
It is tough, but so is life.
Later, I ground thousands of kilos of fresh pig meat for sausages. We love and respect them pigs, give them names too.
I did not and I will not kill, but once the animal is dead, I see no problem in cutting it to pieces. I had my hands greasy with pork fat many times.
Why do you think they are slaughtered before Christmas (actually, before winter solstice)? They are a symbol of death and rebirth. Still meaningful in rural Europe. Too bad many of the city dwellers forgot their origins.
I will preserve the ancient customs, even if I'll have to kill them myself (which I will not like/enjoy).
  • #151
  • Comment by kookie in london
Great article. I have always wanted to be present for a pig slaughter, these pictures provide a great insight. Wish I could have tried some of the delicious looking meat!  Interesting that they didn't seem to do much with the head? I recently cooked with pig cheeks, they were fab.  I was hoping to see how they are removed.
  • FX's answer→ Yes pig cheeks and pig jowls are fantastic. Not sure what they did with the head (a friend took these pictures).

  • #153
  • Comment by Roel Halbersma
I love seeing this, this reminds me of stories i heard from older people here in Holland
Pigs used to be slaughtered and processed like this till ca 50 years ago.
It mostly happend in november and december , the butcher came to peoples homes and did his job there, no bullshit of pigs travelling a thousand miles stacked in a truck , just fast and old fashioned, and nothing got wasted, every bit of the pig was used, even the bones.

P.S we have a local delicacy thats made from the pigs head, its called headcheese, just scraped and minched flesh, i love it when drinking a beer , and having it sliced into blocks with some mustard :)
  • #154
  • Comment by The Mad Russian
We are slaughtering our yearly three pigs this Sunday. Big family event. I am first generation American who values his old world heritage. You cannot buy such quality pork in a store. Overall, it is no money saving deal raising only three pigs, and feeding them well. However, the quality of the meat outweighs the costs. We rise them in a 16x20 foot pen and they are treated like royalty.
I make my own cured jowl bacon, salumi, sausages, scrapple, etc.
  • #155
  • Comment by Romana
This is exactly how my family does pigs, bulls, lambs, etc.  In the courtyard and it is a family affair.  If you were squeamish, you were not allowed to eat of the animal.  Which taught you a lesson for next time - this is where your food comes from!  Here in the USA there are still places that sell animals and you are allowed to butcher them onsite using your tools and methods.  This is the best meat, supermarkets cant even touch the flavour.  And the Romanian/Moldovan haggis is awesome!
  • FX's answer→ This is a really cool rule - squeaming about the pig, no bacon for you! I think this should convince many city folks to accept the fact that their food comes from dead animals or turn vegetarian for good.

  • #157
  • Comment by eduardo
Hola!! Que linda la carneada casera!! En mi familia siempre se conservo la tradicion de carnear dos cerdos todos los años, desde la  epoca de mis abuelos en la pampa
y despues en la provincia de buenos aires donde viví siempre con mi familia.
Yo soy la tercera generacion que sigue esta tradicion, y en este momento estoy preparando tres capones para el invierno que viene, El que tenga lugar para hacer un corral de engorde, con piso de madera y un buen techo(el cerdo tiene que estar bien!!) que no desaproveche la oportunidad. SON MANJARES los productos que te da el cerdo!! Ademas  los comprados ni se les parecen a los caseros, hoy en dia para achicar tiempos se utiliza mucho la quimica Y eso no es bueno!!
Saludos a todos los compañeros de carneadas!!!! Y QUE ESTA CULTURA NO SE TERMINE NUNCA!!   CHAU Y MUCHA SUERTE.
  • #158
  • Comment by Faraz
Very good article!  Being born into the Muslim faith (but a practicing atheist and a true carnivore), I have seen other animals (cow, goat, lamb, camel, sheep) being fattened up all year and then slaughtered in the name of a religious sacrifice during my younger years.  I never emotionally could accept the killings and found them disconcerting to say the least; I do believe however that this is the most sustainable way of killing and eating any kind of meat.  As for people making comments that humans should be vegetarians....I have these two scientific facts for them:

1.  Humans, like ALL other predators (EVERY SINGLE ONE) on planet earth, have their eyes located right in front of their heads.  This allows predators eyes to do triangulation, to accurately judge distance of their prey from their heads, while the prey is running.   Predators by definition prey upon other animals that "run".  They do not prey upon vegetables, since vegetables do not flee upon attack.  If predators did prey upon vegetables, then they would not need eyes in the front of their heads, since no real-time or accurate triangulation would be required.  Therefore, by deductive reasoning, since our eyes are located in front of our heads, we must be predators and hence we MUST be meat eaters.  You will notice, by complementary evolution, ALL prey animals (EVERY SINGLE ONE) on planet earth, tend have their eyes on the sides of their heads (generally they are also vegetarians).  This allows them a near 180 deg view from each eye, giving them 2 x 180deg = near 360 deg view, so as to enable them to spot predators all around them...think birds, fish (not sharks though), goats etc.

2.  Humans, like predators have K9 teeth...like dogs, lions, wolves, bears...meat eaters.

We humans are meat eaters and we are born to love the taste of meat through evolution....Case closed.
  • FX's answer→ Faraz, this is a highly interesting argument for meat eating which I had never encountered. Of course some will argue that we humans have the opportunity to elevate ourselves above what nature made us, but such arguments can always be made. We could also find, I suppose, a similar line of reasoning when inspecting teeth.

  • #160
  • Comment by Horatiu
Hy, just wanted to add a few info on the whole thing. Setting aside the slaughtering as it is (and I've seen it up close a number of times) I would like to address the "but is something that was done all over Europe only 50 years ago" issue. The difference here (I'm Romanian, so this about Romania - can't thing of a big difference with Moldavia) is that 50 years ago we underwent a terrific transformation - from capitalist to communist. This is important because one of the first things introduced by communism was collective agriculture(large surfaces of land, previously privately owned, livestock and machinery all were forcefully taken by the state and assembled as large farms were the previous owners were expected to continue their activities sharing most of the results with the state). As this happened only a small number of animals, and land, were permitted per household in rural Romania. In some sort this put forth a sort of rural resistance if the terms is permitted, where people would still use traditional methods ( this doesn't restrict to animal slaughtering - you should look into the household industry of producing prune liqueur) in their daily lives as a way of opposing mass, modern agriculture promoted by the state. Later in the 80's when famine was quite common in the big cities of Romania, having relatives in the country side was the only way to ensure a proper meal. There are numerous urban legends about this phenomenon. Pig slaughtering is all the most important since a great deal of Romanian cuisine involves pig, and this is even more accentuated around Christmas. After the fall of communism, products obtained from family pig slaughterings still retained their value, and with the introduction of supermarket mentality these products have become even more sought after. So you see, this is still going on here, even though it no longer happens in Western Europe, part for it's immediate value in meat products and partly as a cultural event. There is big tourism growing on this ( the traditional, unspoiled rural way of life in some parts of Romania) and since adhering to the UE there has been an increasing support behind "closed doors" for these practices as older people living in the countryside see UE regulations as a second coming of communism(this may sound a bit harsh but you should travel there and talk to them). I would very much like to see both coexisting, part for moving on to the 21st century and part for my personal delight in this type of "slow-food" branded products!

I've been a fan of this site for more than a year now and look forward to any new article!   
  • #161
  • Comment by Mike G
Fascinating, I enjoy eating meat and while it will remain in my diet I have questioned why it is such a staple many times. I think I would like to do this in person to really understand the gravity of my actions.

  • FX's answer→ This is one of the contradictions of our century - we love animals and consider them as beings not entirely dissimilar to us (pigs being the equals of politicians for instance), and yet we kill them to eat them.

  • #163
  • Comment by dooflotchie
"In my Swiss canton of Valais, people used to say Dans le cochon, tout est bon, 'in a pig you can eat everything'."

Reminds me of what my grandmother (we're American) once said:
"We ate everything but the squeal."
  • #164
  • Comment by Milan Popovic
Hello there,
thanks for sharing these pictures and writing an article about it.
My grandfather was a butcher and he used to dry meat for other people too, so I've been around meat my whole life. :)
We usually slaughter pigs in fall, so the meat could be dry for winter and upcoming holidays.
I come from Serbian part of Bosnia, and here, and in Serbia as well, pigs are slaughtered almost the same way.
With a slight difference: Serbs cut the hole in the pig's throat and let the animal bleed out.
I have watched it since I was little, so I don't mind seeing "blood'n'guts" at all. :)
After that, it's the same thing: take intestines out, cut the carcass, cut the meat into pieces to be dried, small pieces go into sausages, but the main parts are, what we Serbs say "peka" and "slanina".
"Peka" is red meat, and "slanina" is bacon. Bacon can be white and with strips of red meat.
All the meat is then marinated in salt and garlic for 14-21 days (depending on the size of the pieces) and then washed off and put above smoke to dry for 7 or so days.
All of it tastes great, and it's all natural, homemade.
Nothing can beat the salty taste of this meat, especially with Serbian homemade cheese, red peppers and drink "rakija". Bon appetite! :D
  • #165
  • Comment by Jeff Stanley
I am glad for the detail shown in the slaughter of a pig. I am an animal lover and love them most when cooked! Just kidding, I like dogs and cats but would not eat them. However, that is a preference based on my western up bringing. I would not condemn someone else for partaking. In fact, if I am ever in "Rome" , I might do as the "Hindu" and join in.
  • #166
  • Comment by Sarah Haynes
We live in northern Spain- Galicia which is the bt above portugal. Pig killing is called the 'matanza' most people who live or have a house in the country have their own pig to keep, this is also true of Portugal, France, Italy- lots of European countries still do this, unfortunately in the UK we cant, which is wrong as it is a lot less stressful for the animal not to be trucked to the abatoir and herded in in large groups. Also every part of the animal is used,out neighbours make every thing from chorizo to Serrano ham and everything inbetween.People in Spain keep rabbits for the same reason, also true of the Portuguese, Italians etc, so thank you for showing this as people who buy their meat in supermarkets are so far removed from where it comes from,at the end of the day an animal died to be on your table, give it some respect.
  • FX's answer→ I wonder if those bleeding hearts in the UK really knew how the tons of halal meat eaten every day is made, they might change their opinion about home pig killing.

  • #168
  • Comment by Kevin
I'm not a vegetarian, and I've personally slaughtered poultry.

But I would like to point out that Faraz's reasoning about our eyes and canines proving that we are "born carnivores" is silly. Nearly all primate species have forward-facing eyes and canine teeth, even the ones that are strictly herbivorous. The eyes are easily explained; depth perception is important when you spend all day climbing in a tree. The canines are less clear but judging by the common sexual dimorphism of size (male canine teeth tend to be larger than females in most species) they are probably just tools for male competition. In apes they are indeed mostly used for threat display.

Furthermore, there is no known primate species past or present (including our nearest living relatives the great apes and all of our now-extinct hominid ancestors) which has or had a *primarily* carnivorous diet in nature. It's true that many apes clearly *like* meat, just as they like sweet stuff, probably because they are calorie-dense foods and scavenging on the rare occasions when a windfall was discovered in the wild was good for survival.

Our modern technological society has given us unnaturally unlimited access to these foods, and due to our leftover cravings for protein, fat, sugar, and salt we eat way more of all these things than is good for us. A chimp would happily eat meat and candy all day too if somebody would deliver it; but just because the chimp likes it doesn't make it a healthy diet.
  • FX's answer→ Kevin, thank you for these most learned remarks. Alas, I don't think that science if the basis of individual attitudes towards meat-eating, it is often just a consequence of them, people use the science to justify the way they feel towards meat.

  • #170
  • Comment by Ashley
I enjoyed your post. I think it is obvious that these people simply live a rural life. I have seen similar conditions just up the mountain from my husband's family in southern Russia. How could anyone find fault with people who obviously work hard, take care of their family and can probably eat for months (or more) on one pig (and not complain that all they eat is pork!)
  • #171
  • Comment by Haggis
In rural areas of Eastern Europe slaughtering the pig (or the Easter lamb) is a ritual with religious connotations, it is not done at random, it follows strict rules; in a no-supermarket and mostly no-fridge world,  all parts of the pig used to be  preserved so as to keep until the following year.
  • #172
  • Comment by amanda
The sick bastards ought to die. They should be almost starved, stabbed to death and set fire to in parafin doused straw Let them die in hell thats what I say. These people are nothing but savage animals themselves!
  • #173
  • Comment by Junice
I am from Philippines, but I am here now in America yes i saw this how many times when I was growing-up. I check here online because this is my "topic" for my "Informative" speech I will do it tomorrow. So let see how this works. hehehe thank you for sharing.
  • #174
  • Comment by Mugurel
Hello Francois,

i am from Romania and saying this because even today people in my country are doing this in front of their apartments or houses. The number of families slaughtering a pig has diminished in the past years but it is still a common practice. It is the same with lambs for easter.

Your site is very interesting and I am now learning how to cook tandoori and chinese thanks to the informations and help from sites like yours..Althought videos would be amazing or even more step-by-step photos and exact quantities.

Thank you very much for your efforts...you have a great site
  • FX's answer→ Thanks again

  • #176
  • Comment by Arissa
I stumbled onto your blog site after searching for homemade macaroni.  I was completely awestruck by your photographs and desriptive summary of your gastronomic adventures.  I was perusing through and found this article which, by most standard is a gruesome reality of the butchering process. It must be said that this is also a cultural tradition and though not all of them are close to one's beliefs, the people, country, and animal must all be respected.  In the Philippines, lechon is somewhat of the same process and what I have experienced, it also builds the relationship between family feasts and learning that eating involves certain sacrifice.  I have been known to say grace at the table for the food I eat, your article made me aware to so respectfully.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks a lot Arissa!

Hi FX. Thanks for handling this subject with respect. I also grew up in the country and my grandfather used to slaughter our own chickens and lambs. I think it is important to have an awareness of where our food comes from. I hate the rows of plastic trays in the supermarkets filled with skinless chicken breast, 20 drumsticks, chops, cubed meat so you don't even have to 'touch' it, 'soup' bones, etc....what happened to the rest of the animal?!
My son has yet to see an animal slaughtered as we now live in the city with all its 'conveniences'. I long for the simpler life again even though it was "damn hard work"! :-) ahh the good ol' days hehe
  • FX's answer→ Indeed young people today have no grasp of where meat is coming from, that is not showing more respect for the animal, but rather less.

  • #180
  • Comment by Martin
Thank you for the pictures and captions. They are fascinating and not disgusting. This is butchery – it is what it is, and I am sure the pig gave plenty of fine eating. There is a wonderful pig slaughtering and butchering scene at a farm in Ermanno Olmi's 1978 film, "The Tree of the Wooden Clogs", which is a finely crafted film about 19th century Lombard peasants, well worth seeing in addition to the scene mentioned which shows the ritual of the slaughter.
  • #181
  • Comment by Gunnar
Hi FX, I found this article very interesting, and not disgusting at all.
By the way, I have helped an operation like this myself, many years ago, and I remember sticking a corn cob in the pig’s anus, to prevent spilling shit all over the place.
  • FX's answer→ Well that may be just too much information right now ... but glad you liked the article!

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