Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pig Pickin' and Coming Home

It should be noted that one really sucky thing about making plans to travel home is that once you plan them, you have to then wait for them to come!

For those who have not heard, we now have REAL plans to come home August 10th – 20th (give or take a day or so on each side for travelling through lots of time changes). “Home” being Coeur d’Alene this year. So if you can make it, the Pig Pickin’ (see below if you don’t know what a Pig Pickin’ is…) is the weekend of August 15th and 16th at my parents’ house. Any Boiseans that can come up, we would LOVE to see you!!!

So, a “Pig Pickin’”. First of all, aside from the fact that Pig Pickin’s have been in my family since LONG before I was born, we now live in the land of pigs-are-dirty-and-disgusting-things-and-it’s-much-easier-to-buy-porn-here-than-pork. So this year, pork will be ever the more satisfying and devious. Wahahaha.

Ok, so every year, my whole (and it’s BIG) family, along with plenty of friends, get together at my parents’ house to roast a whole pig on a grill. The pig can weigh anywhere from like 150 to 215 pounds. Each part of the Pig Pickin’ is wrought with tradition. Last year was Stu’s first Pig Pickin’ and he got both the honor going to get the pig AND be a “turner”… big news. Heh.

So, we go get the lucky pig from a local butcher up in Sandpoint, Idaho. You drive up there (one year, all by myself in a torrential down-pour, with a carcass sticking out of my tied-down trunk because it was too big to fit in all the way) and the driveway of this place really starts the tradition. You get to drive between two hanging carcasses (where any typical ranch would display their best antlers). You get your pig, which has been gutted and wrapped in clear plastic so you can see the gunshot wound between its eyes, and the stiff form of the (very alive-looking) 200 pound pig.

Meanwhile, whoever is staying home (usually the women, but this changes yearly) prepares the grill and the ice. Grill prep includes sending an unsuspecting child (usually poor Maddison) into the “grill storage area” to free the grill from a year’s worth of pine needles, pine cones, squirrels, and an array of spiders. When the six-foot grill is free to move, it is wheeled out and into the yard, cleaned out, and ready for the pig.

When the pig arrives, it sits in the lid of the grill, packed with ten bags of ice, until it is time to “put it on”. At this point it gets fun. The men go out to split the pig down the center. It is not nearly as easy as it sounds (see pictures) and it takes both a ratchet and a lot of sweat from some pretty large guys to get the job done. Then the pig is placed cut-side down on the grill to slowly roast over a bed of coals for about 24 hours.

Stu a-swinging the hatchet, trying to split the backbone.

Poor Penelope could have been an advertisement for a varicose vein cream commercial.

Kimo (left), Stu, and my Dad (right), trying to split the backbone so she'll lay flat on the grill.

During the time it cooks, new coals need to be added every hour or two (usually Papa is the one watching and directing the show since he’s done over 200 pigs at this point!), which means that some people are given the honor of staying up all night to drink beer and watch the pig. Papa can tell some horror stories of what happens when pigs aren’t watched, things like exploding pigs… doesn’t sound real good.

So the next day around 2 is the “pig turning” (see below) where four strong men with 2x4’s literally pick up and turn the pig onto its back. Last year, as I mentioned before, Stu got to take part in this. Normally there are two taller men and two shorter men. Kimo has been the resident “tall” AND “strong” man at the past several Pig Pickin’s, but their family just moved to England, so I am not sure who will take his place at this one. (It just won’t be the same with Kimo and Candice…)

Stu and Penelope.

The turn.

Anyway, so once the pig is on its back, it is doused with a “special sauce” that Mimi has created in a milk jug. People take turns getting to splash some of it on the pig (as I said, wrought with tradition). Then it soaks for an hour or so in the sauce and then comes the “pickin’” time! You can go up to the pig and just rip a piece off from wherever and eat it. Mom will put a stop to this soon, especially once lots of little hands (read: grimy, unclean kids’ hands…) have had their “pick”. Mom will pull all of the edible meat off the pig and put it on a huge platter. It is served outside with Hush Puppies, rolls, coleslaw, and an array of dishes that various people have contributed. The eating (and of course, plenty of drinking) continues well into the wee hours of the next morning as we all tell stories and bullshit around a fire pit.

Fat me (four weeks after having Kaden) with the turned pig.

Stu and I.

Kaden's very proud Great Grandparents. (Papa, Nana, and Mimi)

So that is a Pig Pickin’ in a nutshell.

I am more than excited for this particular Pig Pickin’ as Kaden will be older than the four weeks old he was at the last one, and will be able to enjoy it. Plus, being able to see my family and friends, and have a really good time with the people I love, is going to be so great. So, as I said, if you can make it, do.

BUT, now comes the dreaded waiting part. Luckily, Stu and Kaden and I are doing great over here. We've all been really happy and just enjoying watching Kaden advance and spend time as a family. August can't come soon enough though! :)


  1. Your grandpa does roast a mean pig. He used to do them at Ommie and Boppies cottage in the summers in Ohio. I always felt so sorry for the poor pig. Of course that didn't stop me from eating it.

    I am loving reading about your adventure and about Kaden he is such a cutie.


  2. I'll be there this year. We need to have a good ole Boppie Signature beef on the rocks cookin this year right beside it....ever had the pleasure of having that delicacy??

    See ya soon!

  3. At Marcia's wedding was my first time with beef-on-the-rocks, and I've been a fan ever since! Usually Mimi and Papa will find a way to have a "special occassion" while they are there so we can all have it to celebrate something. I hope we get to have that too!