Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Traditional Christmas Pig Killing-Say What?

So it's been awhile since I updated but I have an excuse! I just got back from 1.5 weeks in Sibiu for Peace Corps training.  After 6 months at site, PC hosts "IST" which is "In Service Training".  All the volunteers from my group got together for courses in Romanian language, culture, teaching, etc.  It was great to see everyone and hear all the stories, and fun memories at site from each volunteer.  The time flew by mostly because we had a packed schedule which kept us busy, but we managed to get Chinese food (my first here!), see some beautiful sites, and drink Vin Fiert-which is red wine heated, with fruit and cinnamon-amazing.
Beautiful Piata Mica-Sibiu

A walk to the Center, Sibiu
I arrived back at site yesterday morning, only to discover I did not have any heat in my house-no bueno when it's snowing and freeeezing.  With no response from the "fix it" man, I dreaded going home after school.  During one of my breaks, I got this text from one of my 12th grade students: "My dad is killing pigs today after school if you want to come! Let me know." Knowing that killing a pig for Christmas is a big tradition here, it was definitely something I wanted to watch so I of course said yes.
As soon as I got to the house where the slaughter was to take place, I was promptly given old clothes to change into-wait...what? I was PARTICIPATING? My heart started beating faster-I was just getting used to the idea of watching a pig get his throat slit, but actually participating? That was another story.  I was also given boots, because "blood isn't good on shoes". Ohh Lord help. I changed, and walked slowly outside, not ready at all for what was about to take place.

The only way to keep warm! Oh-And check out that Pig Slaughtering outfit.
It was freezing outside. A soft snow fell and I could hear the sounds of the fire cracking and a biiig pot of water boiling over it.  The only other sound was that of the pigs in their pen-I felt they knew what was about to come.  Three huge men looked at me and said, "Ready?"  (Ok well it was in Romanian) and off we went.  The men wrangled one pig and tied off his mouth with what looked like a wire, the noise coming from the pig is indescribable, so I won't even try to put into words what I heard.  Before I knew it, the pig was on his side, squealing to high heaven, and before I could cover my eyes the throat was cut and the pig was dead.  Was it really over that fast? Suddenly, the pig started to spasm, moving his legs and making noises but apparently that is normal for the muscles after death, even in pigs. They kept assuring me that he was dead...but uhh. He was moving alot, until all of a sudden he was still. Little did I know this was just the beginning.
The second pig that was killed. Take a look at my face right here...
A second pig was brought out of the pen, and the same thing happened: squeal, side, throat slit, collecting blood in a big bowl, then silence. Until my student's father lit up the blow torch. WHAT? Yeahhh the pigs were then scorched with a blow torch to remove all the hair.  This was a long process until the big was blackened.  It was then our job to scrub the pigs with big brushes to remove the burnt skin.  It was after this process that I was given a piece of the skin to eat, they said it was the best.  When in ROMania, right? It actually was pretty good, if you can get past the idea what you just saw Wilbur alive less than 10 minutes before.

My "Pot 'o Blood" from Wilbur. This would be used later for blood sausages.

Blow Torching the Pig to remove the hair. The shovel is also to scrap the hair off.

Don't worry puppy..you're not next.

He's still concerned.

More fire and hair removal.

Scrubbing the burnt part off.
After the pig was all cleaned up, he was sliced right in half from bottom to top, and off came the head. (not to be throw away though, as brains and other yummy goodness would be cooked up later.  OH but instead of waiting to be cooked later, parts of the ear were cut off for me to eat RIGHT THEN. Again, putting all thoughts of poor Wilbur aside, I ate that ear with gusto.  Actually, it was delicious.
Oh yeah...pig ear. Delicious.

I don't even know what to say here..

The slicing begins...

No head. Sorry to all my queasy people out there. I documented every step.


That was one sharp knife.
  The rest of the day was spent preparing meat, in every way imaginable.  I ate heart, liver, skin, ears-you name it. I helped make the sausage, and that "cleaning of the intestines" part I could do without...lets be real.  And even though I had seen the entire process from the killing to preparing the sausage to seeing the brains while still in the pig-I was able to sit down with the entire family and eat an amazing dinner of, well, Wilbur. It was delicious.

Bowl filled with parts.

Oh...cleaning intestines. Best. Part.

Preparing bags of meat to freeze, and making sausages.
Without a doubt, this was one of the best days I've had here in Romania. What an amazing thing to be a part of, I was so excited to be invited to this sort of event and so honored that this family let me participate.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. :)


  1. Wow, I'm not going to lie that is really impressive, I can't believe you did it. I couldn't even disect a frog in high school and you did a pig and had it for dinner! Haha

  2. What a great life experience. We in the US used to be an agarian society so for your Great Grand parents this was probably a natural occurence on the farm. I am so glad you took lots of pictures... I looked at everyone of them! Incredible... and I think its neat that they use so much of the pig... no waste! That's what I call fresh!

  3. I am very impressed by your ...ummm..intestinal fortitude..Sara! I have seen parts of the process, but never from beginning to end..

  4. Hy, I'm from Romania and a few days ago I read in a newspaper article about a Romanian family from Chicago who did the same thing to a pig in their garden. Look what happend:( read the article below)

  5. Vasilescu, I've searched all over the net and have been unable to find that news anywhere outside of bucharestherald, and every other source just cites this one, leading me to believe it's made up. I wouldn't believe everything.

    Also, I'm from Romania, and I get that it's tradition, but fuck that.

  6. I think that is digusting! How dare people think they can do that and then post it on the internet, you selfish person!