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.
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