Skip to comments.Cajuns fete Carnival with pig slaughter
Posted on 02/03/2008 7:23:45 AM PST by decimon
Butcher Timmy Guidry, right, holds down the pig before butchering it during La Grande Boucherie des Cajuns Saturday Feb. 2, 2008, in St. Martinville, La. 'The boucherie is so important to our culture,' said Denise Leger, 34, a Cajun Catholic from New Iberia who helped her uncle butcher the pig. (AP Photo/Brad Kemp)
ST. MARTINVILLE, La. - Far from the Carnival balls, parades and raucous crowds of New Orleans, Cajuns in St. Martinville held their last "bon temps" before Lent in a far different fashion: with a grand boucherie, or slaughtering of a pig.
Hundreds of people watched at least part of the ritual Saturday, though most have seen it before. The pig's skin was being shaved for cracklins, a Cajun snack, while the carcass was being prepared for transport to a butcher shop.
"The boucherie is so important to our culture," said Denise Leger, 34, a Cajun Catholic from New Iberia who helped her uncle butcher the pig. "A lot of people give up their favorite foods, like boudin, as a penance during Lent."
Every year, Catholic Cajuns in this community about 140 miles west of New Orleans hold "La Grande Boucherie des Cajuns" the weekend before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent.
"This is a celebration that was started out of necessity," said Stephen Hardy, 38, who leads the group organizing the event. "Before refrigeration, they had to share the slaughter. One family could not consume a whole hog before it would go bad. They would have family and friends over to help, and everyone would leave with something."
Back then, he said, a family would either host or attend a boucherie about once a month. With meat readily available at any grocery store today, the boucherie is simply a celebration of an old tradition, bringing family and friends together once a year for one last hoorah before the Catholic season of fasting begins.
Unlike other Carnival celebrations, food is the focus in Cajun communities like St. Martinville. In Mamou, locals ride on horseback collecting ingredients for a community gumbo during the "Courir de Mardi Gras," or "Fat Tuesday Run."
"I don't think I'll be able to watch them kill the pig, but I sure like the food," Jody Gibbens, of Bandera, Texas, said Saturday as she sipped a beer and weighed her lunch options as a band played in the background.
Federal health code regulations prevent attendees from eating what is slaughtered during the celebration, Hardy said. So the butcher, after showing what is done traditionally, will take the carcass and byproducts to his shop to finish preparing the meat.
He'll have plenty of options: salt meat, patties and sandwiches, sausages such as andouille and boudin, rice and pork dressing stuffed in an edible casing, head cheese and cracklins, among them.
Nothing goes to waste, Hardy said. The skin of the hog is scraped and the fat layer next to it rendered into lard for cooking. The skin and attached fat are what's fried to make the crisp, tasty cracklins.
Twelve-year-old Sage DeLaunay's arms were dripping with fat after he beat out more than 20 kids to win a greased pig contest and the lard-covered piglet he nabbed.
"This was my first time, and I'm so excited," he said. "I'm gonna raise it and kill it one day."
Won’t find too many Muslims there.
They had a show on "Dirty Jobs" last year about making cracklins. Kind of like making sausage. Taste great, but you don't want to watch.
1. Sounds like a great, warm, community gathering
2. Invite some Muzzies just to upset them
3. Keep this away from PETA
Laws and sausage are the two things that you want to avoid being made...
***Federal health code regulations prevent attendees from eating what is slaughtered during the celebration,***
What the heck is this? I remember hog killings from my childhood on the high plains. People from 20 miles away would come to help.
No one EVER got sick!
Since when do the FEDs need to get involved in everything!
>>Denise Leger, 34, a Cajun Catholic <<
God Love her!!!! She’s a better woman than I am. If I had to kill what I ate, I’d be eating lots of eggs.
I love the Cajun culture. I grew up in East Texas, where many from Louisiana had migrated, now have a daughter living in Lafayette, and love visiting there.These people are the salt of the earth, in my opinion.
If you must ask then you are clearly in need of re-education. Submit in all ways at all times and you are free.
Wonder if the China pigjacking ended up in the tradition here.
Sounds like fun.
I personally don’t care to watch the meat that ends up on my plate go through the process to get there but I would happily enjoy the end result.
Wonder if they make cajun Chitlins’?
Other wise good for them and a big happy Fat Tuesday....sounds great pork out before Lent then fast and fish on Fridays untill Easter.
It’s a Good Cajun Catholic thing.
Yeah I agree I could not do it but would have no problem Celebrating the rest of Fat Tuesday before Fish Fridays.
NO FARMED FISH!
Hope our local crabbers come in with a bounty. Seas have been to rough to get out this year....dim crab outta be big and meaty by now.
When you take knife in hand and by your actions kill something for food, you learn a new respect for life and acquire an understanding of the basic order of life on this planet.
My older daughter gets grossed out looking at the meat in the grocery store.
If she or I had to slaughter something, we would be vegans. I like meat, I pay others to slaughter, thanks.
Why do I have to live in lousy MI?
My mom and dad did some time in LA when they were first married. We had some good traditions from it. Not slaughtering pig, but King Cake and red beans and rice on Mardi Gras.
First time I made a King Cake in this area, friends said, “Pretty. What is it?”
Maybe we should make this a daily part of American culture county-wide. But then the ACLU will try to make it illegal.
***If she or I had to slaughter something, we would be vegans. I like meat, I pay others to slaughter, thanks.***
It should be remembered tha all out vegaetable farms were once habitat for animals. They had to be killed off before the land could be used for vegetables.
So even the most vegan person is still in a round about way responsible for the slaughter of millions of animals to clear the land for garden corps. They just pay for someone else to do it.
You would probably give up eggs if you collected them yourself and saw them streaked with bllod and crap.
You two are EXACTLY the type of people that should try it at least once. Take up skydiving or rock climbing if you have a fear of heights. If you are afraid of water, learn to swim. If bugs creep you out, go help a bee keeper tend his hives. If you are afraid of guns, take a gun safety course.
Push yourself and your self imposed limits and you will grow personally. I’m not saying that it will cause you to get over your fear or that it will “cure” you. But having the courage to face your fear and still come through it will make you a much stronger, and most of the time, a better person.
Many of the things that we say we “can’t” do are only self imposed images that we want to see about ourselves. That is a lesson the military taught me in basic training. Think you can’t run five miles .... how do you know till you try? Think you can’t jump out of a helicopter 100 feet of the ground with nothing to hold you but a thin rope - try it. With the right education / supervision, you can learn to do many things you thought you never could do before.
Here is to the hope that in some small way, you will take on at least one challenge. Perhaps not butchering your own meat, but something else that is a fear that holds you back.
Federal health code regulations prevent attendees from eating what is slaughtered during the celebration,
So does this apply during Ramadan too?
I've got one thing to say about this Cajun tradition:
Excellent observation! This is a little gruesome though. I think that my daughter has the correct attitude toward all of this. She: "I love a good ribeye or T-bone steak. Just don't tell me how it came to be a ribeye or T-bone."
For their own safety, PETA better keep away from this.
That celebration is an Islamic-repellant, to be sure! LOL...keeps the terrorists at bay.
That was my question also. What kind of federal regulations are these? Does our government really presume to tell us that we cannot get together and prepare food from scratch?
What about game animals? Am I now supposed to take a deer to butcher to comply with some federal meat regulation?
It’s different than slaughter.
I’m a medical assistant. An ADMINISTRATIVE medical assistant. When I went into school I told them that I would study clinicals but didn’t want a job in it. I ended up as an office manager for Psychs.
I’ll skydive, thanks.
Since the 16th Amendment was supposedly ratified on February 3, 1913.
.....I’m glad there’s still Cajuns left and still Cajun culture....things are just too homiginised in America these days....if you want to see neat stuff you gotta get off the inter-states and hit the blue highways...I lived in south Louisiana in the early 70s and had some great times there.
***Actually, Ive hunted eggs. It fascinated me that they were soft and warm when first out of the chicken.***
They are warm, wet, but not soft. I have gathered eggs, finding some that just came out of the chicken, I mean the egg plops on your hand when you reun it under the setting hen. When slaughtering some older hens we found eggs in all stages of development still in the hen. They are not soft when they come out.
re: kill what I ate
My wife had a rascal of a little boy in her preschool several years ago that shot a lizard with his BB gun. His dad was not happy at all and decided to use it for a learning moment. He wanted to teach the kid that you don’t kill things for the sport, without making him feel like he was bad or anything. So dad picked up the dead prey by its tail and told the kid that hunters eat what the kill. Dad went inside, opened a can of anchovies, then came out insisted the kid join him in eating the fruits of his hunting. The kid was none too happy, but ate one anyway. Dad told my wife later that was the last time he had used his BB gun to shoot at a living thing!
I thought Dad was pretty smart in this. I can’t think of anything less appetizing than anchovies, but certainly harmless. I guess it was lying to the kid, but somehow I think it was a fair trade!
I agree but progress carries that price. We wouldn't be doing what we are right now doing without that progress.
I think that was a great lesson!
Kudos to the dad.
Yes they are.
Makes you wonder who first looked at a chickens butt, and said, “I’m gonna eat the next thing that comes out of that.”
I think it is a little weird the way the author uses the words “Catholic” and “Catholics” in this article. Yes, most Cajuns are Catholic and yes, generally speaking, Lent is more emphasized by Catholics than by other Christians, but Mardi Gras is celebrated by almost all South Louisianians (among others) and Cajun is Cajun. The events described here are not “Catholic” events.
For the record I prefer beef so one whitetail lasts my family a whole year.
I chuckled when I read that. I've known adults who were surprised that eggs are warm when they're laid. Like they didn't know birds are endothermic.
Turtle eggs aren't warm when they're laid. And sea turtle eggs are soft, too. (Bird eggs have hard shells.)
Not me, all the planes I fly on keep the doors locked and they don't issue parachutes.....
I could care less if they shoot a lizard and think it’s crazy to make a kid eat one.
mammals yes...my kids are not allowed to kill mammals pell mell...but my cats are..lol
this is one of those paradoxes.........
40 years ago no one cared about killing a kid killing a lizard
today, yall’s opinion is not unusual at all, there are now folks who anguish over stepping on bugs
and some folks think we’re more civilized.
50 million voluntarily killed babies later.
me personally, I’d prefer to go back to when killing lizards with BB guns was permissible and ignored and abortion was illegal most places.
culture changes not in a straight line
PS...when we were boys, our moms were more worried about us shooting one another...and yes did happen
Did they invite the Saudi royal family?
Nah, Cajun men don't walk hand-in-hand. Not openly, anyway.
How times have changed.
Or... You ever seen an eggplant? Sure. You’ve been farther up a hens butt than I have.
“These people are the salt of the earth,...”
Amen! We had the pleasure of spending a pre-Mardi Gras weekend in St. Martinsville some years ago (missed the pig slaughter, however). Charming little town with wonderful, warm, down-to-earth people. Loved every second we spent there.
***Yes they are.***
No they are not. I have killed many an old hen who had perfectly HARD eggs still in them and I used to work in the ggg production industry. I still have a few laying hens for my own use.
“The shell is added in the uterus or shell gland portion of the oviduct. The shell is composed mainly of calcium carbonate. It takes about 20 hours for the egg shell to form. If the hen lays brown eggs, the brown pigments are added to the shell in the last hours of shell formation.”
ggg= should be egg.
Although not born into the ‘culture’, my birth in Louisiana and many years afterwards brought me much pleasure as I embraced the people of south Louisiana and their culture.
laisser les bon temps rouler = let the good times roll....