Eat or Be Eaten

Quotations concerning pigs
and the pantheon of pork

suckling pigs

Whether your tastes run to proletarian pork like SPAM® or a fine Spanish Jamon Iberico ham, there is a veritable pantheon of pork available in this world.

And though the swine, like us, have a discerning pallet, on the long trip from the soil to our own mouths, the everlastingly doomed swine is but an interlude.


Here is a supplementary bulletin from the Office of Fluctuation Control, Bureau of Edible Condiments, Soluble and Indigestible Fats and Glutinous Derivatives, Washington, D.C.:

Correction of Directive #943456201, issued a while back concerning the fixed price of groundhog meat. In the directive above named, the quotation on groundhog meat should read ‘ground hog meat.’

Bob and Ray, aka: Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding
A U.S. comedy team active from 1946 through the 1980s. Write If You Get Work (1975).

He who cannot eat horse meat need not do so. Let him eat pork. But he who cannot eat pork, let him eat horse meat. It’s simply a question of taste.

Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971)
Soviet Premier, quoted in the New York World-Telegram and Sun, 25 August, 1964.

A pig does not bolt its food, but chews it, and savors it, and shoves it about with the snout to release the aroma; it revels in it. This, to a pig, is hog heaven.

Kent Britt
U.S. writer.

Shall I venture to the trough,
   do I dare to stuff with starches?
I shall dine on low-cal tubers
   and go on diet marches.
I have heard the farmers talking each to each.
   I hope they will not come for me.

John Southall Hatcher
U.S. poet, author and Professor of English Literature at the University of South Florida. “Pig Song” from The Hog Book by William Hedgepeth (1978).

There is something about the lure of a barbecue that kindles nostalgia. At our house fresh local cider with juicy caramelized sausages, hot from the grill, has been a favorite breakfast for countless Sundays in autumn. I still vividly recall spareribs that in our youth we barbecued in the dark on a beach at Big Sur; pigs roasted over fruitwood embers under the shade of olive trees in sunny Mallorca; and the ongoing easy meals of pork chops cooked over smoldering coals at dusk, bringing to a close a day at the lake.

Roberta Wolfe Smoler
U.S. author, cook and translator of French cookbooks. The Useful Pig — 150 Succulent Pork Recipes, (1990).

Pig, n.: An animal (Porcus omnivorous) closely allied to the human race by the splendor and vivacity of its appetite, which, however, is inferior in scope, for it balks at pig.

Edible, adj.: Good to eat and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)
U.S. writer and journalist. The Devil’s Dictionary (1906).

There were scattered dwellings of surviving Mayans throughout the area. In one, I found what had apparently been an altar stone for human sacrifice lying outside a simple native hut. It had large indentations in it, presumably to hold the sacrificial victim, and now was being used as a trough for hogs. They were feeding at it when I came upon them.

The hogs were descendants of European pigs brought to the New World a long time ago but too late to make a difference [for the Maya]. The combination of elements — the strange discrepancy between brilliant architecture, bewildering color, fabulous religious imagery and an impoverished people, and European domestic swine — seemed somehow to suggest that if those elements had come together in another sequence, the Mayan culture might have survived the European intrusion and gone on to enrich the world.

Roger A. Caras (1928-2001)
U.S. author, broadcaster and ASPCA president. A Perfect Harmony (1996).

If you feed a calf from birth with bran, it will become a pig.

Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (1898-1976)
Russian peasant breeder and “geneticist” of the Lamarckian School expounding the genetic theory that acquired characteristics can be inherited. He was in charge of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the Soviet Union until the mid 1960s.

Marbthair dóib dano in mucc Mic Dathó. Tri fichit gamnach co a biathad saide co cend VII mh-bliadan. Tri neim imorro no-bíata[r], co ro-lathea ár fer nh-hErenn impi.

Now Mac Dathó’s pig was slaughtered for them. For seven years sixty milch cows supplied its food. On poison however it had been nourished and the massacre of the men of Erin took place through it.

The Book of Leinster
A medieval Irish manuscript compilation (c. 1160). This text and translation, “The Story of Mac Dathó’s Pig,” is from: An Early English Reader (1927), by N. Kershaw Chadwick.

…But what was most remarkable, Broadway being three miles long, and the booths lining each side of it, in every booth there was a roast pig, large or small, as the centre attraction. Six miles of roast pork! and that in New York city alone, and roast pig in every other town, hamlet and village in the Union. What association can there be between roast pig and Independence?

Capt. Frederick Marryat (1792-1848)
British Naval officer and novelist reporting on a 4th of July celebration during a visit to the U.S. in the 1837. Diary in America (1839).

Unlike good beef, which is best when least tampered with, pork is a little too sweet and flabby — one might say epicene — when cooked plain. Something more is needed to inflame the imagination: the year-long stay in the smokehouse that firms the texture and intensifies the flavor of the country ham; the coating of garlic and herb; the quick turn in a hot oven that produces the juicy fat-seared roast loin of pork.

John Thorne with Matt Lewis Thorne
U.S. authors and chefs. Serious Pig, An American Cook In Search of His Roots (1996).

Arnold Ziffel, pig.
  Resident of Green Acres.
   Does he rest in SPAM?

Dave Barsalow
A contributing haiku poet in the SPAM Haiku Archive where SPAM™, that mysterious food product, is honored on John Nagamichi Cho’s web site with a “collection of tranquil reflections on luncheon loaf.”

STUFFED PIGLING
Let the pig be killed by cutting his throat and scalded in boiling water and then skinned; then take the lean meat and throw away the feet and entrails of the pig and set him to boil in water; and take twenty eggs and boil them hard and chestnuts cooked in water and peeled. Then take the yolks of the eggs, the chestnuts, some fine old cheese and the meat of a cooked leg of pork and chop them up, then bray them with plenty of saffron and ginger powder mixed with the meat; and if your meat becometh too hard, soften it with yolks of eggs. And open not your pig by the belly but across the shoulders and with the smallest opening you may; then put him on the spit and afterwards put your stuffing into him and sew him up with a big needle; and let him be eaten either with yellow pepper sauce or with cameline in summer…

The Goodman of Paris or Le MÈnagier de Paris
Translated by Eileen Power, a former Professor of Economic History at the University of Cambridge. The original text was written about 1393 by a Parisian merchant for his new, and much younger, wife. It is both a cookbook and a statement of the writer’s ideal of marriage.

Again, there is the greatest folly and absurdity in allowing your followers to eat animal food, while you forbid them to kill animals. If this food does not defile, take it yourselves. If it defiles, what can be more unreasonable than to think it more sinful to separate the soul of a pig from its body than to defile the soul of a man with the pig’s flesh.

Saint Augustine (354-430 AD)
An early Christian philosopher who served (396-430) as the Bishop of Hippo [Algeria] and was the author of the autobiographical “Confessions” (397 AD). On the Morals of the Manichaeans (388 AD).

Never eat more than you can lift.

Miss Piggy
An actor in Jim Henson’s Muppets troop.

Interview Excerpt:

Q: Did you ever have to do work that the men usually did?

A: One fall we had a five hundred and fifty pound dressed hog hanging in the yard. The men went off to Wells River to take up another hog they had dressed at the same time and left it hanging there and the caldron kettle half full of water. They aimed to get back and take the hog down to cellar before it froze. It would never do to let pork that was going to be salted freeze.

I was all alone with the children and I waited until almost twelve. My husband didn’t come and so I took a lantern and a saw and a knife and went out to fetch in that hog… I cut up that hog and loaded it piecemeal onto the sled. The worst part was getting it through the front door, but I managed. I had it all done before my husband got home. He asked who had brought the hog in. I said, “I did.” He asked who helped and I said, “Alone.” I wasn’t wasting many words on him. He was struck dumb.

Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writer’s Project Collection.
Transcript #37130111;
Interview with Mrs. Elizabeth E. Miller (Grammy Miller)
Date: November 4 & 16, 1938
Ethnicity: Scotch/Yankee
Age: 90 years old
Family: 4 boys, Clarence, John, James, George and 1 daughter who died in infancy
Location: Mountain and Lake View Farm, West Newbury, Vermont
Interviewer: Rebecca M. Halley.

It is high time for us to repeat on every occasion that we have not wastefully destroyed food in any form. It is true that the Relief Administrator has purchased hundreds of thousands of tons of foodstuffs in order to feed the needy and hungry who have been on the relief rolls in every part of the United States. The crocodile tears shed by the professional mourners of an old and obsolete order over the slaughter of little pigs and over other measures to reduce surplus agricultural inventories deceive very few thinking people in this country, and least of all the farmers themselves.

I have always supposed, ever since I was able to play around, that the acknowledged destiny of a pig is sausage, or ham, or bacon or pork. It was in those forms — as sausage, ham, bacon or pork — that millions of pigs were consumed by vast numbers of needy people who otherwise would have had to do without them.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945)
32nd President of the United States (1933-1945). Address on the Agricultural Adjustment Act, May 14, 1935.

Suppose you fill any animal whatsoever with liquid food — an experiment I have often carried out in pigs, to whom I give a sort of mess of wheaten flour and water, there after cutting them open after three or four hours; if you will do this yourself, you will find the food still in the stomach. For it is not chylification which determines the length of its stay here — since this can also be effected outside the stomach; the determining factor is digestion which is a different thing from chylification, as are blood-production and nutrition. For, just as it has been shown that these two processes depend upon a change of qualities, similarly also the digestion of food in the stomach involves a transmutation of it into the quality proper to that which is receiving nourishment.

Galen of Pergamum (129-c. 210 AD)
Greek physician, writer, and philosopher. On the Natural Faculties (170 AD), translated by Arthur John Brock, M.D. in 1916.

The moist, flavorful meat is concealed under a thick slab of crisp fat that would make a cardiologist blanch.

Bryan Miller
Restaurant critic, describing Pig Heaven, a Manhattan restaurant specializing in pork dishes. New York Times, September 28, 1984.

MR. WEINGLASS (Defense Attorney): What, if anything, occurred while you were at home that evening?

THE WITNESS (Ed Sanders): I received a phone call from Jerry Rubin.

MR. WEINGLASS (Defense Attorney): Could you indicate to the Court and to the jury what the conversation was that you had with Jerry Rubin on the telephone that night?

THE WITNESS (Ed Sanders): Well, he said that he was very… he had gone to Chicago and that they had placed a petition for a permit, filled out the necessary forms with the necessary officials in Chicago.

Then I said to him, I hear that you’re thinking about nominating a pig for President, an actual pig, oinky-oink, you know, “Pigasus, the Immortal.” Then I said… Well, I let it be known, as a pacifist and a vegetarian, I had heard there was a faction within the hippie hemp horde that was advocating a big pig roast after the election at which point the pig would be made into bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, and that I was a spokesman for the vegetarians and I was opposed, philosophically opposed to this.

And so it was agreed tentatively at that point that there would be no bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches made of our presidential candidate.

Ed Sanders
Publicist for the “Festival of Life,” the Yippie demonstration held concurrently with the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The Yippies, led by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, also nominated a pig — Pigasus — for president and urged demonstrators to fight the police or commit acts of civil disobedience. Transcripts from The Chicago Seven Trial, Sept. 24, 1969 – Feb. 8th 1970.

What the country needs is less hog and hominy and more chicken and celery.

Jacob Biggle
Eminent farm and garden authority. A Concise and Practical Treatise of the Management of Farm Poultry (1895).

[the pig] is the most generous animal, the only one who gives everything to the pleasures of the taste; and it has always been the most slandered and unappreciated… Laying on two racks, a wonderful 100-kilo mortadella [Bologna sausage], invites you to touch its back as if it were an entire, divine pig.

Riccardo Di Corato
Le Delizie del Divin Porcello (1984).

Sometimes in the midday halt a stray pig that had cunningly evaded the foragers would venture forth in the belief of having escaped ‘the cruel war,’ and would find his error, alas! too late, by encountering our column.

An article by Capt. Daniel Oakey
of the Second Massachusetts Volunteers. From “Marching through Georgia and the Carolinas” in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (c. 1885).

This pig, which was eaten many times in anticipation, had at length fallen a victim to the butcher, and Facey’s larder was uncommonly well found in black-puddings, sausages, spareribs, and other the component parts of a pig: so that he was in very hospitable circumstances…

Robert Smith Surtees (1805-1864)
British journalist and writer, regarded as the master of the characteristically English genre, the sporting novel. Mr. Sponge’s Sporting Tour (1853).

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.