Sunday, July 5, 2009


Once upon a time, a vegan friend of mine told me she believed that people only ate meat because the processed product was so far removed from its original form that people were able to distance themselves from the fact that meat was once an actual critter. It was an eloquent arguement, and one she's used to prove her point before. But there's a few flaws in it.

So, I described to her a pig pickin. Words can't describe how big her eyes got and I'm not all that certain I want to know what she thought of me after exposing that particular facet of Southern cuisine.


Pig pickins are pretty much exactly what they sound like. You spend the entire day roasting a hog and then you literally pick the meat right off the carcass. It's absolutely delicious and I have many wonderful memories of all the men gathered around, beers in hand directing the roasting and eventually looping off the head for us kids to play with (usually under the pretense to discover whether or not the head would sink if tossed in a canal. They float.).

These are social events in the extreme. The mommas making ambrosia and coleslaw, gossiping in the kitchen, the daddies only sort of keeping an eye on the kids outside, the kids who were mostly up trees or chasing the girls/squeamish with the pig's liberated head, and the requisite dog, inevitably named Shep, running around barking up a hazard.

Food and community are so closely tied in Southern culture that it's almost impossible to talk about one without mention of the other. I'm hard pressed to think of a conversation I've had with another Southerner that didn't include at least the presence of drinks, but usually heavy meal.

My vegan friend blanched at the mere description of this feasting tradition, and I'd hate to see her reaction if I actually brought her to one. Or maybe the sadist in me would love it. Either way, they're something I remember fondly and I look forward to the next time I get to go to one.

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