January 15, 2008
Warning... all lovers of cute pink cartoon pigs should leave the room. Now!
Years ago (early 1970's) I had one memorable close encounter of a pig kind. It was that first pig killing experience that changed the way I thought of pork forever. I'll never forget the flavor of the first fresh pork liver I cooked, grilled over an open fire, on Lopez Island... in the good old days. Amazingly delicious.
In these good old days (and I am sure they are in the making) I expect the best from my meat and get it by buying directly from the artisan producer at one of many weekly markets in my fertile corner of Southwest France. And that is where we are heading today, to meet and talk with Mark, Dominique and Christiane Chapolard at Ferme Baradieu.
It starts with a handful of sunflower seeds that I see scattered on the ground the first time I visit the family farm. Then I see more by the barn; more by the open tractor shed. I'm not paying too much attention because I am excited to see some of the 200-some pigs of all ages that the Chapolard brothers raise, slaughter and butcher before selling them at my local markets. Pink, hairy, big-eared Large White crossbreeds. That's what I've come to see. But instead, I find myself following a trail of sunflower seeds like Gretel and the breadcrumbs. Sunflower seeds here, corn kernels there, some barley scattered there by those small silos.
Marc stops me before we enter the open-sided barn where I can hear Pig Talk going on. And lots of it- it's close to feeding time. These are not pasture raised pigs. But the brothers grow all the grain that they feed their animals on their own land. Jack tends the fields with an army of shared giant machinery, combines and tractors, and Bruno oversees the nursery where sows and sucklings stay cozy under heat lamps. Marc holds out both of his hands and shares the sweet smelling meal with me. "This is the beginning of a very good sausage."
Next the nursery...
Posted by Kate Hill at Tuesday, January 15, 2008