Hi! This post describes and shows the butchering of a pig. It is part of the culture of Moldova and I was grateful to be able to experience this. However, I know for many people, this may not be of interest, so please skip this post.
This past fall I attended the butchering of my host family’s pig. Throughout my life I have been vegetarian and at times vegan. I more recently started calling myself a selectatarian as I choose when I eat certain items in my diet. I have enjoyed eating different dishes made with meat or seafood and decided that knowing how the animals were raised or how the fish/seafood was caught would matter. I also think that being able to see this process first hand is really important. It is easy to overlook the truth about where our foods comes from in the US culture of convenience and perfectly presented packages.
While I have been in Moldova, I have learned that Moldovans enjoy eating the skin of the pig, the heart after cooked is usually given to children to eat as it is seen as special and the pork loin tends to be the most expensive cut if it is sold. The stomach and intestines are use to make sausages or to make “Moldovan Sausage”: intestines stuffed with rice or potatoes.
My host family treats their animals well. The animals have access to open space, eat a good diet and are not altered (no nose rings, tail cutting, etc). They are very proud of the way that they take care of their animals and are quick to point out that they don’t feed them chemicals and that the pigs drink the leftover whey from the cheese made from cows milk at my home and not water. They are intentional in the way they raise their animals and do not take shortcuts to make them grow fast.
When I knew that I would see the pig being butchered, I wanted to know more about the views on the humane way to do this. Shooting the pig was listed by most websites as the most humane way; however, my host family (like most families in Moldova) does not own a gun. Instead they stabbed the animal in the heart; an amazing feat to see as it was done in one quick stroke. However, the sequel that a pig makes when this happens is something that I will never forget and not sure that I ever want to hear again.
WARNING! Below are extremely graphic pictures of a pig being slaughtered. This is what happens every time you buy bacon, but it may shock you.
GRAPHIC PHOTOS and Additional content below.
It took a minute or so for the pig to pass. After this,the pig’s skin was slightly singed in order to scrap off all the hair and dirt. Then it was singed again, this time more intensely. The pig was washed and was scraped once again. It was washed again and hoofs were removed.
Next steps included the separating of the pig into manageable parts. Everything was saved to use in a variety of food dishes. I was amazed at actually how little blood there was and how quickly the men were able to do this. The parts were then brought to the kitchen for further separation by my host mom, her daughter and daughter in-law.
It is rather common to be near or at the piatas (markets) and see the head of a pig or slabs of skin available for sale. Within a few hours of the slaughter, neighbors had stopped by to purchase parts that my host family was willing to sell. Some of the meat was cooked that evening, some was turned into sausage and that along with the other parts were packaged and put in the freezer.