The Power of the Pig in Monghidoro

BOLOGNA–This good-size town in the north of Italy rewards its visitors with understated charms. both architectural and culinary. Head south, toward Florence, and in less than half an hour you’ll be in the commune of Monghidoro, some 3,500 souls with a fondness for swine. Pigs. Oinkers. So much that the first weekend in March is dedicated to the Festival of the Pig.

Pity the pig, reviled as a filthy glutton in our language and our literature. Fortunately, cooks, farmers and sausage-makers know better; they praise the pig, revere it as the embodiment of everything delicious. There are even entire operas dedicated to swine. Which ones? Pigliacci. Pigoletto.

Sadly, fresh pork spoils fast. It needs to be cooked and eaten before it decomposes, breaks down under the assualt of micro-enzymes…or else preserved somehow. Refrigeration slows decay, freezing kills unwanted bacteria. But man has long preserved his food in other ways as well: smoking, sweetening, salting, air drying. Simply put, the harmful bacteria cannot live in a dry, salty environment. But the process of salting has many variables and success takes both a scientist and an artisan.

Anyway, this weekend is the festival. If they can clear the snow in time.


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