Pigs on the Wing

by Steve Dollar

Ride That Pig to Glory

Too much pork for just one fork. That was the motto for the North Carolina neo-hillbilly trio Southern Culture on the Skids. It also should belong on a bumper sticker, attached to the back of Joe York's Ford Taurus station wagon. The filmmaker, based in Oxford, Mississippi, logged 40,000 miles of mostly rural backroad in the last year-and-a-half, chasing across a region that stretches from the shrimp-and-slide-guitar shores of East Texas to the white-picket-fenced pastures of Virginia. This weekend, York is in New York City, sharing some of what he’s documented at the Big Apple BBQ Party, an annual throwdown where the nation's top BBQ chefs convene to show 'cue-starved urbanites how it's really done.

It was only last month that York found himself in Mansure, Louisiana, deep in the heart of Cajun country. It was there he discovered that "you can pretty much stand anywhere on the road down there and you'll meet someone who'll invite you to come eat a pig." He ate a whole damn lot of pork on his trip, which he offers a taste of in the new short film To Live and Die in Avoyelles Parish. The piece, which premieres Sunday during festivities at Manhattan's Madison Square Park, samples the revelry at a far more rustic, hog-roasting celebration: the Cochon de Lait Festival. Every Mother's Day weekend, the town becomes the site of a massive public ritual, as some 30-odd pigs get hoisted up on metal racks that resemble a giant, improvised coat-hanger contraption, and are cooked into a state of sublime tenderness before a roaring blaze. The outcome, cochon de lait, is named for the suckling pigs that constituted the original dish—literally, animals that are still subsisting on Miss Piggy's milk. When it's done right, the pork is juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside, as the white flesh is encased in crispy skin known as cracklin'. "When you screw up the skin, you screw up the whole pig," York says. If everything's done right, the pig turns into a sandwich, with the skin used like slices of bread.

Source: http://daily.greencine.com/archives/008075.html

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