Monday, January 7, 2019

Holiday traditions - Moldova

Part of the business I do on my farm are people who want to have a pig and process it in the way that their tradition and culture has done for ages.   One of those groups that I serve is the the Moldovan community that lives in and around Seattle.  

What they like the best is a relatively large pig; 300lbs or so, with a good amount of back fat.  They aren't particularly picky on color, and do like to choose the pig that they are going to process, and see it live.  

It's often a little bit of a problem to make sure that they get a pig that they are happy with - I'm asking them on the phone what size pig, they're consulting (pig purchases are often a group endeavor, with 3 or 4 families splitting the pig) and it's a bit of a parlimentary process, and no matter what they tell me on the phone, they almost never pick a pig like the one that they describe.  So I smile, and talk slowly, and don't take careful notes; I know that the final decision will be made on the day they come to the farm.  

I bought a digital scale with a cage around it to help with their choice; after a decade of this I've got a pretty good eye for pig.  I can tell a pigs weight, plus or minus 5 pounds, consistently, but the customers are always skeptical, and so what I do now is ask what size pig they're after, find a pig that weight, and then put it on the scale to show them the weight.  

Some of the folks are skeptical about my scale, too, so I usually ask the person who is closest in weight to the pig that they're after to step on the scale and they usually see that it's pretty accurate, and then we put the pig on and discuss.  

So we put the first pig on the scale, and it's almost always too small.  There's a discussion about this, which I'm excluded from because I don't speak the language, but I can get a feel for each faction.  There's the "fatter is better" there's the "cost is most important" and then there's the "it's the holidays, lets get the best pig!" and the discussions are usually pretty good natured. 

So I show them the pigs they have a choice of, and they pick one, and I tell them that I need payment up front for the pig - after it's shot, there's no going back! - and after we've settled the pig is killed and stuck and they proceed to process it.  

They almost always bring a bottle of something to drink; whisky, schnapps, wine - it's the holidays, and this is a celebration for them.  they'll be eating well tonight, with friends and family, and another year past.  The older people show the younger people and I'm guessing that there's always the story about the really hard work that they used to do.  You know the deal - when we walked to school it was uphill both ways, in the snow!  that sort of story.  

After they've got the pig scraped they'll cut it up, and eat a bit of the back fat, with salt, directly off the fresh pig, and this is an important part of the ritual of the holiday pig.  I'm not a big fan of fat back, but heck, with a shot or two of whiskey, all things are possible!

It has become a part of my own holiday tradition now, and come november I'm looking at the herd and setting aside a few great pigs for these families.  

Happy holidays to everyone, and here's to a prosperous 2019 for you and yours!


Hector B said...

Great reading. Thanks for sharing and happy new year!

Cathy said...

Nice post. Sounds a bit festive.

Angel said...

Love this. Keep up the good work ♥️

clar said...

Glad to have checked your website.Thanks for this!
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