Welcome to the Hungarian Pig Killing photo exhibit!

Pig killing is a great Hungarian tradition. Hungarians love pork in every possible form and have a special fondness for pigs. I read one article that theorized that part of the reason is when the Ottomans occupied the land centuries ago, they didn't take the Hungarians' pigs since Muslims consider pigs to be "unclean" animals.

The main purpose is to make sausage and cutlets that are then salted or smoked in a backyard smokehouse or frozen to last for the year. This, along with pickling vegetables, was a hedge to insure that food was always available in the long winter months. I also suspect that when Hungary was a communist state, food supplies might have been irregular, also necessitating self-sufficiency. (If this is wrong, I am sure Nagy Péter will be quick to straighten me out.)

Usually this is a job done around the Christmas holidays so the whole extended family can come over to help out and take some sausage home. To get ready, everyone drinks some házi pálinka (homemade brandy) to warm themselves for the long day ahead.

As an American boy from the suburbs, I had never seen anything like it. I was struck by the mood of everyone involved. It was important work, much like a harvest. Through this you feed your family. Everything was done methodically and with the skill that years of practice has honed.

I had a friend that invited me to witness this spectacle and take some photos on my cheap instamatic camera, a Konica Snappy Tomato. I was indebted to be allowed to observe this and I am pleased to now share it with you.

And finally, the very pompous:    This page © Copyright 2002, Kent Foster