A few weeks before we were due for Hungary, we got a quick email from our friend Gabi that said, “If you can stay until October 2nd, the family is getting together for a pig slaughter.”  Gabe and I consulted our calendar and rearranged a couple flights and voila! we could attend.  One thing that we didn’t understand however, was why do you set a date for a pig slaughter and how does it take a whole family?  I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to rearrange my flights for such an occasion but Gabe and I have been living by the rule – if you’re invited to something in another country go!.

So there we are in the family room of Gabi and Paul’s farm house located in the southwest corner of Hungary, a stone’s throw from Serbia.  The fireplace is toasty and we’re wondering what to expect the following day.  Our instructions were: 1.) Don’t wear anything you don’t want blood on, and 2.) Don’t let the family get you drunk before the work is mostly taken care of.  Gabi then proceeded to tell us stories of pig slaughterings gone wrong.  Like the time one of her uncles thought it would be funny to give his friend a haircut with the blowtorch.  Cleaning a pig involves many sharp tools and dangerous implements, but it’s also a family get together kind of like a big bbq in the US, so everyone wants to be merry and have a few sips of Palinka.  (Palkina is the local firewater, and Gabi’s grandmother distills her own for the family.  In fact, she even pays for things like a plumbers visit in Palinka!)

I won’t go into too much gory detail, but let me assure you that there was no suffering on the pig’s part, and every part of it was put to use.  We made steaks and chops with the meat, sausage with more of the meat and insides, and even a blood sausage with the cooked blood.  The sausage making was a highlight of the whole day, as it is certainly an art rarely appreciated in the US.  We helped mix together a delicious mix of meat, some onions, and paprika (which is featured in all Hungarian dishes,) and then stuffed the cleaned large intestine with the help of a sausage stuffer.  Gabe got to try his hand at stuffing, and applying the right pressure while filling takes some practice.

The pig party wasn’t all we did at the farm in Hungary.  We also went for walks in the countryside herding Gabi’s mom’s goats.  It turns out that Gabe is a natural goat herder.  He quickly learned the words in Hungarian for “Come goats!” and they followed him wherever he went.  It was the last stop in our epic world trip and we were lucky to be surrounded by such a nice family and to see Gabi, Oliver and Katerina’s familiar faces.  Another unique slice of life!


1 comment to Hungary

  • The Dean family

    What a great blog Sarah! We were so happy to have you guys stay with us! Gabe’s talent for sausage stuffing is impressive! We miss you guys, and hope to see you soon. Thanks for the pictures you’ve sent us! The Dean family

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