As it turns out, a chest freezer takes about four hours to cool down, which was just enough time for us to pick up the pig, formerly known as Weasel. So yesterday, after our respective morning errands, Sarah, Connor, Donnie and I jumped in the Subaru with a large catering cooler in the back and headed up to Napa. We of course stopped at Oxbow market for lunch, because really, who wants to visit a bunch of carcasses on an empty stomach?
Barry the butcher wasn’t in at Brown’s Valley Market, but the strapping young butcher who helped us out let us take a quick tour of the back. There were two other meat cutters carving up large hunks of beef and slicing bacon. Our pig parts came in three cardboard boxes. We pulled the car around back to the loading door to quickly and unceremoniously cram Weasel into the cooler while avoiding a slew of vulturous yellow jackets that were buzzing around the alley. She fit perfectly.
All of the meat was carefully vacuum sealed in plastic with a label denoting the cut. Of course we wanted to know the final weight of our pig bits, so we put Connor on a bathroom scale with a milk crate and took stock:
We are very much looking forward to our first pig meal: Carnitas on September 17. In the meantime, a sneak preview at Sunday brunch this morning confirmed that Weasel is indeed a tasty pig. Now we are down to five packs of bacon and may need a security system for the freezer, cause that stuff is like gold!
I eat out every night, foraging for food among the Mission’s sea of taquerias and local eateries. I hate suburban malls and getting up early on weekends, and also have no patience for shopping of any sort. With this context, you can see that I was the perfect candidate to figure out storage for our frozen pig. The original plan to store our meaty parcels, to distribute them amongst our tiny urban iceboxes, sounded much smarter while bourbon-storming. In the sober light of the busy work weeks that preceded our pig pick-up, we decided to acquire a chest freezer.
We started with the used appliance store around the corner from Sarah’s house. After two visits, a phone call and a host of broken promises to call us with quotes, we decided that the establishment was probably a front for trafficking illegal workers and we turned to Craigslist. At first glance I was stoked; there were freezers, many under $100. The available inventory was spread throughout the far reaches of the bay area. After three days full of maddening staccato flakey communication brought me no closer to our desired acquisition, I remembered why I hate Craigslist. One look at the Home Depot website and a new chest freezer didn’t look so expensive. And that my friends is how I ended up at the Daly City Home Depot at 8:30 this morning.
We had to get up early and leave our lovely borrowed Calistoga compound to get to the fair by 8AM.
The grand champion went for $60/lb. That’s a $15,000 of fine swining.
The friends are patiently waiting for the price to come down.
American society seems to place a premium on attractiveness even at livestock auctions. After observing the sale of 81 pigs we have found that handsome boys command a premium of $.75/lb -$1.50/lb for their pigs while the prettiest girls get at least $2/lb and often more than the going average (33%-180% premium) for their pigs. It’s all in the smile.
After about 4 hours of auction and several unsuccessful bids we finally bought pig number 155 of 200. She’s a 268 lb Crossbred Market Hog named Weasel, raised by Lindsay Schmitz of the Mt. George 4H Club…the very same club under which Sarah raised her lambs years ago!
Is when a band of friends will venture to the Napa Valley Expo and buy a pig at auction. This ritual sacrifice will render tasty pig parts for our freezers and here at ayearofpig.com we will chronicle the culinary delights, moral reflection and bourbon-sipping that ensues.