I’m walking downtown with a family on a warm, humid fall evening to check out pig night (that is what my family affectionately calls the night before Hog Day). We round the corner. Three men are loading whole pigs into the back of a golf cart.
One hog is already in the bed wrapped in plastic. The second is in mid-air – being tossed from the back of a trailer into the cart. It flies almost gracefully and lands with a thud on top of the first pig. I watch the process as I mosey on by – wondering if my northern husband is shocked by this nonchalant handling of dead pig carcasses that seems so normal.
The driver, a gray haired man with a trim frame, notices us watching and greets our group with a drawn out “Hoooowdy, Hoooow y’all doooing?” His speech is slow and full with the thick southern accent customary of my home state.
Our group responds with hellos and an exchange of customary pleasantries. One of our group mumbles something and gestures towards the pigs.
The old man declares, “Oh yeah. Little miss piggies here. They gonna be delicious.” With that he speeds off.
I watch him drive over to the cookers area to deliver the pigs to some of the cooks competing in the overnight BBQ cook-off.
The cook-off area is packed full of a dozen or so Pig Masters with barrel smokers, big trucks, and pop-up tents to cover their make-shift kitchens. The small parking lot is transformed by their preparations.
A man uses a blow torch to prepare his charcoal.
Smoke billows into the air, rising up over the small parking lot clouding the effect of the street light and creating an eerie haze.
Another man smothers the hog with a secret blend of seasonings and closes the lid to start the night-long cooking process. As the lid closes the smoke rushes outward and envelopes me in a blanket of pork-scented smoke. It is heavenly.
This mouth-watering process will continue long into the night. Barbequing the whole hog is time consuming. It cooks slowly, producing delectable aromas one succulent drip at a time. In the morning the meat will fall off the bone, ready for the taste test.
That old man is right… those little piggies are gonna be delicious. I can’t wait til morning!
Stay tuned for more on the Hog Day festivities and the food it celebrates.