Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mangalitsa Festival in Napkor

There's a neat pig slaughter festival in Hungary, featuring Mangalitsa pigs.

The video and story are here. It is too bad that they characterise the pig as "particularly hairy" instead of "particularly marbled", "particularly flavorful" or "particularly Hungarian."

Hungarians have a very special relationship to Mangalitsa. Not only did the Hungarians create the breed, but they say that the pig saved the Hungarians during the 150-year Turkish occupation. Supposedly the Turks took everything but the pigs, forcing the Hungarians to live off their pigs, who ate what they found in the forests.

Many Hungarians consider the Mangalitsa their pig. For example, I got chided by a Hungarian for using the English spelling, "mangalitsa", instead of the Hungarian "mangalica." Having known a few Hungarians, I knew it was coming. I hope she accepted my explanation: if we'd gone with the Hungarian spelling, Americans wouldn't have much chance of pronouncing it properly. E.g. is there a non-Magyar American who knows how to pronounce Szombathely?

It is hard for Americans to comprehend how a people could be so proprietary about their animals. The only example I could think of was Masai with their cattle: the breed is tough and perfectly adapted to their environment (semi-arid conditions without water), and the Masai need the animals in order to live.