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Mary Marcus: This little piggy went to Santa Monica

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I can’t stop thinking about this pig I met today at around noon on Montana Avenue as I was heading toward lunchtime yoga.

He’s the same pig I’ve seen ambling down the center on San Vicente that begins at the ocean and sweeps up with a wide grassy boulevard studded with flaming trees in the spring and runners all year long. His owner says it is commonplace for drivers to screech to a halt, fly toward him and the pig, and he regrets he’s been the cause of several accidents.

His name is Rocky, the pig that is. I was late for class and I didn’t have time to ascertain the name of the guy who was walking this cloven-hoof creature (or find out if the pig had pig shoes). Rocky is very beautiful, just plain gorgeous. I’d forgotten my phone, so I don’t have a picture of Rocky either. His owner had him tied around his very thick neck, and he was walking really nicely, like some kind of fat, strange looking dog. The owner doles out bits of popcorn to keep him going. I wondered what Henry would have made of him.

He was such an amiable looking creature, all clean and tidy and not in some low, filthy trough waiting to be slaughtered. That’s the kind of pig one usually gets to see. That’s the kind of pig people refer to when they say, “you’re such a pig,” “you’re fat as a pig!” “What a pig you’ve made of yourself!” “He/she is happy as a pig in shit!” And, of course, the Yiddish for pig, “Vat a chazzer!” And so on. Then there are the sexual slurs associated with piggery, as in, “he wanted to pork her,” (she usually doesn’t want to pork him). The MPAA doesn’t think pork is as filthy as the f word. And I adamantly disagree. Say the f word once and it’s an R just for that. I will spare readers a further digression on how much violence is allowed in a movie before the R rating sets in.

The farmer Salvador Iacono in East Hampton owned the only other pig I ever met. He was in a trough getting fattened up. Mr. I. raised the pig and slaughtered him after Christmas. Only his select customers were offered the knuckles and the bacon, though never the hams. The hams were for his family.

What I’m thinking about is the troughs and the slurs. You have to in some way justify this killing of such a beautiful sentient obviously intelligent beast. You feed it garbage, you put it in a pile of mud, and you make fun of it. Then, if you are not all that fastidious, it isn’t such a terrible thing to eat it, is it? I.B. Singer (my favorite writer a lot of the time), a lifelong vegetarian and someone who lost family and friends in the Holocaust, pointed out, “For the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.”

One would never eat a dog; not in this country, anyway. One would have the ASPCA at the front door faster than you can say, ‘Doggy for dinner.’ What’s the difference between dog and pig, cow, and lamb? Not much. Not in my book anyway.

The copywriter who came up with “the other white meat” referring of course to pig is brilliant. It belies the fact that pig is really fatty meat. And a big beautiful warm-blooded creature. They make it sound like eating pig is like eating chicken (which when you come down to it, isn’t so benign either).

I haven’t eaten pig in a very long time. It was the first meat I gave up and the one I think I liked the best. Some Hebrew scholars believe that the admininition against eating pork has to do with the fact that the sweet meat of the pig is the meat that most resembles in its taste human flesh. That’s not why I gave up eating pork. I can’t remember why; it was just an instinctual move on my part. But now that I think of it, I must have put together the pig in the trough at the farm in East Hampton and its knuckle (ham hock in my book) I used in a soup I made. It was a fabulous old-fashioned green split pea soup with carrots and this artisan pig meat. I didn’t have an immersion blender then. It was messier and more time consuming to make soup without the magic wand immersion blender I’ve grown so dependent on.

I’m not going to lie and say a good ham hock is not the best thing that can happen to a pot of peas or beans. It tastes way better with the pig meat, I remember all these years later. I also remember that I met that pig and then I ate him. Never again!

Now would my new obsession, Rocky, eat me if he was hungry? Of course he would! Won’t a pig eat anything? Still, I was very glad today when I met this beautiful sweet creature walking down a fancy shopping street, that I long ago lost the desire for pork.

 

Mary Marcus

Mary Marcus is the author of The New Me and is working hard on Lavina, her next novel. You can stay up-to-date on her blog posts at her website.

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On February 16, 2015
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