Once the morning of slaughtering the pig was over, I returned after lunch to a small stone room to watch the farmers make Boudin Noir (black sausage/blood sausage). As I entered, I was a bit startled to see the head, lungs, heart and what I thought at first was some sort of cool kerchief but instead turned out to be the stomach lining hanging from the pig's head from the ceiling.
I learned that every bit of the pig is used, absolutely nothing gets wasted. The lungs are fed to the dogs, the head is used to make fromage de tete (head cheese), and the blood (with onions and herbs) is used to make Boudin Noir. The two women funneled the filling into the casings, their hands a blur a movement. The old woman here was so animated and so kind, I could not take my eyes off her as she is one of those old people whose young self shines brightly through all the wrinkles. The way she moved and especially the way she laughed, I kept glancing back at her thinking I had just seen her transform into a 20 year old girl.
After the links are all filled, they piled them onto an old sheet and lowered it into a round fourneau (like a cauldron), tied it shut and put a brick on top. The Boudin Noir then cook for thirty minutes. The smoke coming out of the pot made the whole room magical and I kept getting confused what century exactly I was in.
After the Boudin Noir was taken out of the fourneau, I was brought to another room to see the carcass, ready and splayed out for the butcher to come. The old woman taught me what every part of the pig is called. Then the butcher showed me how to cut up the whole pig. I have to say, that part was AWWWWWWWESOME. It made me rethink butchery as a possible career choice.
And last but not least...dinner.
As I sat down to eat the Boudin Noir, I couldn't help but be amazed that in 10 hours, I saw the pig go from alive to cooked on my plate for dinner. Call me naive, suburban, etc. but I just never grew up with the notion that what you eat EVER resembles an animal. I feel grateful for the chance to have witnessed the process of slaughtering an animal so that I may eat it. I walked away from the experience with a new perspective on what it really means to eat an animal. While it did not turn me into a vegetarian, I have a new awareness and a new resolve to only eat organic meat.
Once again, thank you France for opening my eyes.
And thank you, pig.