The killing of the pig is of great importance in the annual cycle of agricultural and festive tasks, as it is both a productive task and a celebration.
Pork is one of the staple foods of the local gastronomy, so the killing of the pig is vital for the family economy, ensuring a large part of the meat supply, besides constituting a family and neighbors feast. The time of the pig slaughter runs from November to January, since cold is an essential factor for the conservation of the meat.
Given the importance that the pig takes in the food diet of the households requires special care in its creation and barley, particularly in the months before the killing. Thus women are unveiled in a thousand ways with regard to their food, which consists mainly of locally produced foods such as rye, potatoes, cabbage and turnips. Such is the constant concern that surrounds the treatment of this animal that often promises offerings to Saint Anthony (Holy protector of the animals) to protect it from diseases and bad ills.
The day of the kill is combined in advance. Inviting relatives, neighbors and friends are invited to return the invitation at the time of the killing of their pigs. This aspect inserts the slaughter of the pig in the context of the mutual assistance so characteristic of this region.
This day is especially hard for the women of the house, it is worth in these crushes the help of relatives and neighbors who lend a helping hand. In a constant bustle the women prepare the parva or mata-bicho to lend the stomach to the guests. They have a varied repast on the kitchen table (bread, cheese, meat, codfish, soup, etc.) where there is no shortage of wine and brandy to push the food and warm the body.
At the end of the morning meal, the guests go to the court where the pigs are found, the tools (wooden bench, knives), roll up the sleeves and start the celebration. While a man guards the door to let the animals flee, the rest enter the court and grab a pig and take him to the altar of sacrifice, the bank where he will be killed.
When there are enclosed courtyards near the courts, they release the animals outside the court and see the men running after them trying to catch them, one grappling one leg, the other the tail, the other the ears and the muzzle until they finally catch the animal and they kill him.
Among these guests is the bleeder who fits the role of master of ceremonies and immolate the animal, a woman accompanies the unleashing of the killing and trim the blood for a bowl.
Meanwhile, at home, the rest of the women prepare the lunch for the party, dividing the tasks “one strip the test, another puts the spoon and another throws the salt”. The woman who collected the blood returns to the house with the bowl, stirring it to prevent it from coagulating and preparing the sarrabulho. This delicacy, which is much appreciated in the lands of the county, consists of boiled blood seasoned with salt and which is then served in pieces with sliced onion or garlic, finely chopped and seasoned with olive oil.
After they are dead, the pigs are scorched (they burn their hair), once with straw, peccaries or giestas, now use a gas torch and scrape the skin with a knife or blade. Then wash them with water, soap, rub the skin very well and pour water to clean any impurities that may have. Then they open the pigs and remove their entrails. Later on, the women constrict their guts (they remove the fat that surrounds them, using it later to make rojões).
All this process takes place in joyful cavaqueira (conversation) among the guests, but the effort was great and it is time to recover energies. A woman takes the sarrabulho, bread and wine and puts a cloth on the pig, which is on the bench, serving as a table where the tray is placed with the sarrabulho for the guests to eat.
Recovering their strength and with a more comfortable stomach, they take the pigs, take them to the bottom of the house where they hang them and leave them for a day or two. Party table, full table. Lunch is an authentic feast where tradition tells us to eat essentially the flesh of the pig that has killed itself. Besides sarrabulho they eat fried liver, fried heart and rib rojões. To this one joins a little of the meat of the pig that was killed the previous year, is a sign of good government of the house. There are also those who also make a stew with veal, chorizo and chicken. As an accompaniment, rice and potatoes are usually made. This repasto does not lack many and varied desserts: vermicelli, sponge cake, french toast, etc. However, in the parish of Fiães do Tâmega, the most important meal of commemoration is the evening meal, the supper of the killing, where besides the delicacies mentioned, one also eats the breast of the pig that has been killed, cooked.
After lunch, the men entertain themselves to play cards, and then go to the cattle. On the other hand, the women share the tasks among themselves, while some are doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, the others will wash the guts, according to the villages wash them in the rivers, corgos or lavadouros, constructed for the purpose. After washing, the casings are wrapped in salt and are preserved until the day that the smoker is made.
Source: Câmara Municipal de Boticas 2006, Preservação dos Hábitos Comunitários nas Aldeias do Concelho de Boticas, Boticas / Photography: The killing of the pig in the villages of Beça (2014) and Bobadela (2016) – TR