Sunday, November 14, 2010

Killing a pig, cooking some pizza, all in a days work

Pizza Pizza Pizza!

It's been an eventful week since I got back to Las Tolas. Theres a couple of new volunteers, which makes for new company, but they are only here until Friday. A mother and two daughters, from Lyons, France, but they are of English background so they all speak perfect english. On Sunday I showed them around Pacto, and we went down and swam in the waterfall.
On Monday I was supposed to go to the finca, and woke up at 6am to get reaady for the 6:30 Lechero amid mountins of confusion. First someone told me I wasn't going, so I went back to bed. Then someone told me I could go if I wanted to. So I got up. Then I was told again I wasn't needed, so I went to bed. I got three or four more mixed messages which I gave up trying to comprehend, and was in bed at 6:35 when someone came into my room shouting, the Lechero's here you have to run! So I threw my clothes on and ran out to the Lechero without any of my Finca stuff. Rumor was we were killing a pig.

The following gets graphic. If you don't want all the gruesome, bloody details, skip down to the >>>>s.

I got to the farm and after a big breakfast we went and got the pig. Now I'm a pretty strong stomached fellow, and I have to say the first ten minutes of this process were really tough (that didn't stop me from eating it for lunch). You drag the pig next to fence and tie its head to one post and another rope to its rear leg, and drag it back until the pig falls on its belly. It's screaming bloody murder this whole time. This was tough to listen to. Then you turn it over, and while a couple people hold it in place (me being one of them), someone stabs it in the heart with a cooking knife, right next to the front left leg. You slide the knife back and forth a bit to presumably cut the aorta, although I imagine it just lacerates the heart a bit. Someone holds a bowl until the hole, which is held open with the knife, while the lifeblood pours out, in huge spurts, into the bowl. The pig started fighting back at this point, and knocked me and a couple people back in its death-throes (This pig was 133 pounds without guts, blood, or a head) but we managed to hold it down while it died, although we spilled blood all over the place.
That was the hard part. After that it was easy. The emotional part was over after the killing. Then it's just bacon. Before you guy the pig or anything, you have to burn all the hair off the skin. You do this with a massive, seemingly handmade blowtorch and a big canister of gas, which we hauled in that morning from the Lechero. We singed this thing until it was basically totally black, I thought we were practically cooking it, it took about 40 minutes of straight torching to get both sides and all the legs, occasionally scraping away the burnt hair and outer layers of skin.
Next you drag the pig onto a couple of boards, laid out for this purpose, and scrape all the char away with cooking knives (including a knife recently gifted by my mother, which everyone was super happy about, because it was "perfect for killing pigs". Hurrah yo yo ma). You rinse if off and the pig is back to pig color, and then the gutting begins. Cut all the way along the belly, slit the throat, and remove the hocks by slicking around the joint and the cutting through the cartilage. The pig is then pulled open, spread-eagle, and the guts are removed piece by piece, stopping to remove bowl-fulls of extra blood on the way. Basically every part is used. All the excess fat is removed and later cooked into lard. Some of the guts are cooked for food, others are fed to the dogs, and others disapear into random pots and I choose not to ask where they end up, despite strange things appearing in soup for days.
When the pig is all cleaned out, and all excess fat removed, the head is cut off. This is what the family saves to eat, the rest of the pig is sold at 1.40$ a pound. I helped to drag the carcass into a sack and load it onto a mule, and we then walked back to the road, where a hired truck was waiting. We loaded up the piggy.
We needed to get the motorcycle back to town, so I road ahead of the truck, and then hopped in after dropping the bike off at the house. Mecias and I went with the truck to Nanegalito where we sold the pig to a shop filled with carcasses. 133 pounds of pig. I bought some ice creams which we ate on the way back, stopping to pig up, er excuse me, pick up some old ladies and a truckful of school children at one point. The rest of the day was lazy.
Today I went to the Finca again in the morning to clean sugarcane. They've built a new wood burning oven in the kitchen, and I joked that it was for Pizza, at which point basically everyone told me that they had never eaten pizza. I was dumbstruck. We're cooking pizza, today, for lunch, I said. Having no idea what's in pizza dough, I had them make normal bread dough with 3/4 the yeast. That worked fine. I quit the cane field around 11 to help cook, and all the women gathered around and oohed and aahed and took notes, which I found hilarious.
I cooked fresh tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, and oregano into a pretty damn tasty sauce, on the open fire of course. I spread out the pizza dough like a pro, even doing the tossing fist thing, which I always screw up but managed to get right, and everyone was dumbfounded. I loaded the pizza up with sauce and local cheese, and then threw on some diced roast chicken, which had come out of the oven five minutes before, as well as some larger diced onions. I told Alonso to get the oven real hot, and he said it was, and then started to add wood after I had put the pizza in, which bugged me, but it worked out ok, it just took 20 minutes longer then it should have to cook.
The fam munches on some pizza

The pizza came out delicious looking, despite the cheese not melting like normal cheese. I doled it out and everyone munched out, and said nice things, which I thought were just pleasantries until the whole pizza was consumed after everyone had eaten mountains of rice. I was very proud, and all the ladies were talking about different ingredients they were going to try next time. I made them promise to cook me a pizza next week.
I rode back to town in the afternoon on the bike with Elvirea, my first time riding with a slightly larger person. This is tough on a 100cc bike, and it couldn't make it up some of the hills, but we made it there with only slight incident. I don't think the bike was very happy though, it went down about 7 inches on the suspension whenever she sat on it. Still fun.
Oh my god what have I done
Tomorrow I'm going birdwatching with Salomon in the morning, and probably working in the artisan shop in the evening. And then back to La Minga, the backbreaking hole-digging bridge-building campsite which seems like it will end on Thursday, but I'm kind of looking forward to it. More Later, and details on the upcoming trip to Peru!

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