The Pleasures of Pig

My handcrafted, blown-glass pig salt-and-pepper shakers. I picked them up at the League of N.H. Craftsmen’s annual fair.

In the first chapter of Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder recounts in vivid detail butchering time at the little house, including several pages dedicated to breaking down the family hog into various delectable pork products — hams, shoulders, side meat, spare-ribs, belly, the head for headcheese, “and the dishpan full of bits to be made into sausage.”

First, though, Pa has to kill the hog. And while Laura is bothered a bit by the pig’s demise — she covers her ears to block out the squealing, even after Pa reassures her that “it doesn’t hurt him … we do it so quickly” — this doesn’t stop her from using his bladder as a plaything after the dirty work is done. (An illustration in the book charmingly depicts Laura and her sister Mary swatting the air-filled, balloon-like bladder back and forth in the yard.)

I remember reading this passage as a child and thinking, “Wow. That’s so cool. I want a pig’s bladder.”

Anyway, the only thing that seems to give Laura more pleasure than the bladder-cum-beachball is roasting the pig’s tail over hot coals, nibbling on the crispy meat, then sharing the bony scraps with her faithful bulldog, Jack.

Clearly, this was the best of times, but why am I telling you about this now? On a blog that worships at the altar of baked goods? Well, I have no good reason, actually, other than to share my passion for all things pig and to remind you to support food producers who respect and use all parts of my pig friends.

And to make the point that I have no problem thinking you’re cute and wanting to eat you.

1 thought on “The Pleasures of Pig”

  1. A friend and I were just talking about Little House cooking – I think I'm going to have to send the Little House cookbook her way now that I know it exists.


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