The clocks had only just gone back and Ted Magnum and I were called upon to cook a baby pig over open coals at a 50th birthday. Naturally neither of us was going to pass up on such an offer especially as the wages were as much beer as we could drink and we duly arrived clutching implements of destruction and an assortment of sharp knives. The weather was glorious and we sparked up and set about preparing the pig or piglet as it turned out to be. The animal such as it was, was only small and I felt pangs of guilt when I noticed the trotters were still pink. This one had never seen green fields or mud.
We had set up the spit prior to preparation and the skin was scored and rubbed with salt while the coals were ignited. Within an hour the pig was trussed and impaled and hoisted above the coals and Ted and me got down to the serious business of the day, turning the spit keeping the fire going and drinking beer. By 8pm the meat was cooked and we basted the crackling with honey and lowered the spit to the flames to give an intense heat and make the crackling crackle. So far so good and as the crackling was peeled off and dished out it was all going well. By 8-30pm the light had gone and Ted and me had to make a decision to take the meat off the spit and cut it up. This presented the first problem of the evening, actually trying to see what was going on. The dainty slices Ted and me had imagined turned out to be great big slabs and as it was a small pig it was not long before we had a skeleton.
In hindsight we would have been better off taking the pig into the main gazebo and letting everyone hack pieces off as they saw fit but it was not to be. I will never forget the look of horror as one small lad turned up with a plate and bun and was handed a lump of pork with a trotter attached to it! I think most people expected to be given a few slices of hot pork thinly sliced as if by a mechanical slicer. Clearly this crowd had no concept of roast pig cooked barbecue style upon hot coals.
In retrospect we have learned never to attempt to cook anything less than 70 pounds in weight as by the time you have taken the bones out there is not really a lot of meat left. Secondly when slicing meat, make sure you have enough light to see what you are doing and do not hand young boys cooked trotters.
Still it was the first of the season.