The Divine Palate: Pig Roast

The Divine Palate: Pig Roast
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Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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When great writers write about food it`s almost as good as eating. Charles Lamb, writing about the first cooked pork. In the tale, a boy plays with fire and the escaped sparks burn down a building with nine pigs, which are ‘roasted’ in the fire. First there is the smell.

While he was thinking what he should say to his father, and wringing his hands over the smoking remnants of one of those untimely sufferers, an odour assailed his nostrils, unlike any scent which he had before experienced. What could it proceed from ? — not from the burnt cottage — he had smelt that smell before — indeed this was by no means the first accident of the kind which had occurred through the negligence of this unlucky young firebrand. Much less did it resemble that of any known herb, weed, or flower.

Then he reaches down and touches a pig.

He burnt his fingers, and to cool them he applied them … to his mouth. Some of the crumbs of the scorched skin had come away with his fingers, and for the first time in his life (in the world’s life indeed, for before him none had known it) he tasted — crackling!

There is no flavour comparable, I will contend, to that of the crisp, tawny, well-watched, not over-roasted, crackling, as it is well called — the very teeth are invited to their share of the pleasure at this banquet in overcoming the coy, brittle resistance — with the adhesive oleaginous — O call it not fat — but an indefinable sweetness growing up to it — the tender blossoming of fat – the lean, no lean, but a kind of animal manna — or, rather, fat and lean (if it must be so) … so blended and running into each other, that both together make but one ambrosian result, or common substance.

Unfortunately for the community in Lamb’s tale, it took some time before they realized that they didn’t have to burn the building to roast pork, so fires sprang up all around town.

I had the happy experience of attending a pig roast (rather a wedding at which a pig was roasted) last fall. It was a wet weekend, and I wondered how the roasting would be accomplished, but that was before learning a traditional way to roast a pig.

Photo credit: daveynin / / CC BY

Photo credit: daveynin / / CC BY

Groom and future father in law and brother in law bonded over the enterprise.. which started with the digging of a large pit down hill from the barn. A pit that looked remarkably like a grave. The bride, a vegan, was remarkably sanguine about this, so I decided to be too. A fire was built up over many hours — made more difficult by the rain. Wood was cut and gathered. The pig, raised by the bride and groom on the organic farm they managed in Hastings, had been butchered and hung. It was rubbed with spices and herbs, wrapped in burlap, then in foil, then in chicken wire to make it graspable to put it in and get it out. The pig was lowered into the pit. Metal roofing covered it, and then all the soil was shovelled back onto it. Finally the men could sleep, though periodically they checked the temperature with a thermometer (high tech) they could read from above ground.

After the wedding, they dug that pig up, the guests participating enthusiastically. Because of the rain, they had not been able to get the fire quite hot enough, but with several barbeques and a smoker, and a couple of hacksaws, they were able to finish it off above ground. It was delicious. Succulent. I stole a piece from the carver’s table, ate it and licked my fingers. And I thought of Charles Lamb.

You may not be invited to a wedding come pig roast any time soon, but you can get your fill of ribs and pulled pork at:

The Second Annual Oakville Family Ribfest

A fabulous summer event combining world famous ‘ribbers’, food vendors, great music, a kids’ Play Zone, Sport Zone, artisans and more. Summer fun for all ages from June 21-23, 2013

  • Friday 4-11 pm,
  • Saturday 10 am – 11 pm,
  • Sunday noon – 8 pm.

Free admission and entertainment.
Lots of parking ($5); take transit to the gate; or ride your bike.



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