In praise of... killing your own dinner

Our money is artist and author Tomi Ungerer to win a fight with any beast

Tomi Ungerer has built a formidable reputation as an acclaimed graphic designer, author and artist known for his fantastically discerning wit and sharp social satire. As he celebrates his 80th birthday today, we thought we'd give you another chance to read one of our favourite pieces of writing in his _Far Out isn’t Far Enough. _In it, the French illustrator recounts the first time he and his wife, Yvonne, kill a pig while living on the wild Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia...

"Anyone who eats meat is an accessory to the assassination, and if there is one thing I don’t like to be, it is an accessory. We devised a system by which we brought our candid candidate under a block and tackle hanging from a beam. There we gave him a green apple to distract him, the equivalent of a Judas’ kiss or the last cigarette. Then I swiftly slipped a double-noosed rope around his hind legs. We discreetly lowered the block and tackle and slipped the rope onto the hook.

Then we jumped for the rope, and "hop!" Like bell-ringers tolling tocsins we hoisted the pig into mid-air. Mr Dennis he don’t like it at all, and he squeals like an excited audience at a TV game show.

Tomi Ungerer

Artist, author and designer, Tomi Ungerer

We had to act fast. Me, knife in one hand, holding one foreleg with the other, Yvonne holding the bucket and pig by one ear; I plunged in the blade. I tried to follow the diagram and it worked: a jet of blood shot into the bucket, testifying to the success of our invention. I know now how cosmic it feels to perform such a rite, but I shall never find the words to describe it. And it is just as well; adequate words would only vulgarize the experience. The will-power used for this performance gave us pride and glory.

Yvonne says: "Man kills either for survival or for vanity." When we kill, it is for both reasons, if the culinary aspect is to be classified in the survival category. With better food you do achieve a better kind of survival. As for vanity: I wouldn’t be writing all this if we were not proud of our feats of butchering.

Then we turned the place into a funeral parlour and proceeded to the toilet of the deceased…

We have been told that this was a barbarous way of killing a pig and that it should be stunned beforehand. That is still to be argued. For my apology I shall reproduce here a passage from the pamphlet published by the Morton Salt Co. in the U.S.A.:

"Sticking is the only and most practical, efficient method to kill a pig and also the most humane. It is best not to stun or shoot a hog before sticking because a good bleed is difficult to obtain when the hogs are stunned."

One thing we can vouch for: never had we tasted such good meat, whether fresh, salted, brined or smoked."


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