Pig Roast, American Slow Food

At the Yale Farm, we make pizza every Friday, but we make pig once a year. Our tradition is only a year old, but I have high hopes that for generations to come, on the last day of classes, Yale students will celebrate by roasting a pig.

Right now we're in the planning stage, swapping recipes, debating whether or not to offer vegetarian side dishes (the general consensus: but collards just taste so much better with a ham hock!), and waiting for a local farmer to slaughter our pig.

By the end of the pig roast, we were charcoal-blacked and pork-perfumed, not to mention absolutely exhausted. But we were also exhilarated.

There's a lot of talk about the effete, European nature of the slow food movement, and I think events like pig roasts remind us of what Americans have had to offer the world of food.

Lately I've been reading a book enthusiastically titled America Eats!, which revives a 1935 WPA project that had impoverished writers around the US hunting down and recording regional food traditions. The events described--Booya feasts, chitlin struts, pancake breakfasts--tend to involve big, long-cooked meals that bring a community together, whether it's to celebrate a harvest or to raise money for the local fire department. At Yale, we roast our pig on the last day of spring semester classes.

curley apr14 pig2.jpg

Photo by Sean Fraga

It takes about five or six Yale students, working in shifts, to cook a pig: they watch it for the 20 hours or so it has to cook, making sure it stays around 250 degrees or so, adding the occasional shovelful of charcoal, and basting with apple cider and vinegar.

Four more are charged with cooking up the mountain of cornbread, coleslaw, and black-eyed peas that will serve the 200 or so Yale community members who stop by the farm to partake.

By the end of the pig roast last year, those of us who had been cooking for a crowd of 200 were charcoal-blacked and pork-perfumed, not to mention absolutely exhausted. But we were also exhilarated, because not only had we fed the masses, but we'd started a tradition, something Yalies love to do.

April 24, 2009, marks the Second Annual Jack Hitt Last-Day-of-Classes pig roast; if you're near New Haven, stop by the Yale Farm around 5pm.

Presented by

Anastatia Curley is the former Communications Coordinator of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. More

Anastatia Curley is the former Communications Coordinator of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. She now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she writes, cooks, and caters local and sustainable meals.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

Just In