Three years ago when we were hosting our first Mutomboko and were going to have 50 people for dinner we decided to roast a pig. Some Peace Corps friends introduced us to a way of cooking the meat underground. It is a 24 hour process but well worth it. The first step is to get a six foot deep hole dug in the ground.
Next you build a raging fire in the bottom of the hole.
Here is the slaughtered pig. The ball of sunshine is to protect the innocent. The first year we got a live pig from the Chief but after a traumatic slaughtering experience that left me in tears we have opted for the last two years to get the pig already dressed from a nearby farm.
Next step we slip the pig inside two pillowcases and then wrap it in a chitenge which is the traditional African cloth.
It then gets all trussed up with twine. Between the six foot hole and the shroud it's all a little morbid and creepy. Is this why people become vegetarians?
Another fire is started outside the hole. You'll soon see why.
I almost forgot the step below this year. Thank God for our gardener, Peter, who came to my rescue and rigged up a wire frame to hold the pig so it can be lowered into the hole and pulled back up again later.
Now that the meat is wrapped and ready Peter shovels dirt over the hot coals left by the fire. It takes about two wheelbarrows of sand to cover them well.
In goes the meat.
And now the outside fire. In go the hot coals and even more small logs to get the fire really hot again. Once this dies down we'll bury the whole thing with dirt.
Now the waiting starts. We won't touch this for 23 hours. Now the agonizing starts. Were the fires big enough? hot enough? Will the meat cook or just sit in the ground and rot? There's no way to check at this point. It's all by faith, my sister.
I console myself for the next day as I go about my business...."there're always eggs. Scrambled eggs taste good with Spanish rice, right?" "Maybe there are lots of vegetarians attending this year. They'll prefer lentil curry anyway." But none of these statements curb the twisting of my gut as I wait and worry and worry and wait.
Up comes the bundle. Doesn't look appetizing at this point.
It's shaken free of its sand blanket and visitors begin to comment on how good it smells. I allow myself a hint of optimism.
Off comes the wire and then the cloth wrappings. Now you can see how the fat and grease have melted through.
And, voila, the final product! Meat so tender it no longer resembles anything like the pork that went into the ground. It falls of the bones on its own and mixed with a gallon of our homemade barbecue sauce it becomes a truly delectable dish!
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