Working with sustainable farmers and fishermen I have developed a mild obsession with food production. Which has lead me to a logical conclusion – today I met the pig that I will buy for my fiesta ‘blowout’.
In the Philippines the lechon (roasted whole pig) takes centre stage at the most culturally significant time for every town, the Fiesta. Families will literally starve themselves so they can afford to buy a lechon for major events.
At the end of the month is Catarman’s Fiesta, my family is coming to visit me and it is also my father’s birthday, no better time to buy a lechon.
One of our model farmers, using one of SPPI’s Local Economy Development Program loans has been fattening hogs. I will be buying a pig from Nini and her husband at a very reasonable price. Her husband will slaughter the pig at the farm, bring the carcass to my house then slow roast it for around three hours, laboriously turning it by hand over charcoal until the flesh is golden.
I am a coward though, the slaughter could have occurred at my house but I said no. I have always been a committed carnivore and was profoundly moved when Jamie Oliver killed a goat in Italy, then helped skin it and cooked it, “A chef who’s cooked 2,000 sheep should kill at least one; otherwise you’re a fake … It’s a beautiful creature but it is tasty and we are the top of the food chain.”
Although I will never make it as a butcher I believe meat, and food in general, is overly sanitised in Australia. Carrots should be odd shapes and who cares if it still has dirt on it? Why are all of our tomatoes perfectly round and red? Where was that fish caught and how many are left? If it’s not the season for apples, eat something else. We should make it our business to know where our meat comes from and what conditions it was raised and killed in.
‘Porky’ (tip: don’t anamorphize your food, it doesn’t help) has lead a healthy life: raised on rice and is fat with a perfect coat. The payment for the pig and labour will equate to two months income for Nini and her family.
I love meat but I have seriously trimmed down my consumption in one of the most carnivorous countries in the world. The labour, resources and environmental impact of production has made me realise what a treat meat is and that I don’t need to eat it every day.