Living with The Firewalkers of Fiji

Don’t Name The Pigs

Sala offered to take me down to the village pig pens. I happily obliged, loving any chance to play with animals.

“Each family has a pen,” she explained as we greeted the oinkers. “The pens are on stilts so they don’t get wet at high-tide.”

fiji-pig-pens

The pigs climbed up the side of their enclosures to get a better look at us. I crouched over and spoke in that special voice I reserve for puppies and babies. “Hello little piggies,” I cooed. “I know you wish I had food for you but I don’t. But I think you’re aDORable.”

village-pigs

Sala laughed as I snorted at one of the piglets. “I wouldn’t get too attached to them.”

I wasn’t listening. “Your name is Wilbur, isn’t it? And I shall call your friend Rupert. And don’t you just look like a Rosie?”

Sala cleared her throat. “Hilary, I wouldn’t name the pigs.”

I frowned at her, already devising names for the pigs in the next pen. “Why not? They all NEED names.” I scoffed at her. I mean, obviously.

“Okay,” she said slowly. She thought for a moment and then smiled at me mischievously. “Well, this one we could call Wednesday’s Dinner. And that one over there will be Next Saturday’s Meal. How’s that?”

I don’t know what kind of facial expression I made that made Sala laugh so hard. But THAT, my friends, was when I learned the harsh lesson about NOT playing with your food.

WHY CRUEL WORLD?!?!?

Sometimes living in other countries makes me sad. I hate to admit it, but I prefer to be removed from my meal. I mean, I love bacon. But NOW every time I eat a Western Bacon Cheeseburger, I will see this face:

pig-face

FML.

27 Comments

  • Reply

    sjanima

    March 25, 2013

    Yes, Hilary, you would only get emotionally attached by naming them and unlike dogs and other pets, they are destined to become our food. Such is life!

    Have a blessed Holy Week! :)

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 27, 2013

      Yes, such is life! I think this kind of exposure is good for me. Incredibly different from my American upbringing. =)

      Blessed Holy Week to you as well!

  • Reply

    Hailey

    March 25, 2013

    What a cutie!!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 27, 2013

      I KNOW! Heartbreaking… He almost got stuffed in my luggage bag on the way home.

  • Reply

    kaleenaskaleidoscope

    March 25, 2013

    I know, it’s so hard to see the cute little piggies knowing they’ll be dinner! When I went to the Philippines last year with my best friend, her family threw us a welcome party and did a pig roast. But that meant that first thing in the morning I saw little Wilbur come trotting in the backyard… and then watched the whole process of his demise. I actually think it gave me a greater appreciation for what I was eating though, and now I don’t quite take eating meat for granted as much as I used to. But still, it’s sad! :(

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 27, 2013

      Agggh! Poor Wilbur. But yes, it’s amazing what an appreciation you gain for your food. And for the food chain in general. And for eating ALL of your food and not being wasteful. I wish everyone could experience at one point or other what it’s like to have to kill your own food, even though it’s incredibly sad.

  • Reply

    One of my mates moved in with her dairy-farmer boyfriend here in NZ, and promptly named half the herd after friends and family (bar Isosceles, who had a distinct triangle on her forehead), only to have the named ones either die or be sent off overseas to become someone elses dinner. We were also sheering some of their sheep, and one was running around marked as dinner, poor little guy!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 30, 2013

      Oh man!!! What a crazy situation! Isosceles is the BEST name for a cow EVER. Mad props for her cleverness and geometry skills ;).

      And what a sad fate… Poor little sheared sheep.

  • Reply

    lola

    March 28, 2013

    OMG that face. so so cute. i’m with you – i don’t need to see where my pork chop comes from!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 30, 2013

      Haha! I KNOW! Super cute.

      Thanks so much for commenting! Have you ever ‘met’ your food, Lola?

  • Reply

    Gina Johnson

    March 28, 2013

    Great story! My Dad grew up on a farm, so he always told me things like this-he thought it was important for me to know the source of my food. Could this be why I rarely eat red meat and don’t eat pork?

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 30, 2013

      Thanks so much, Gina!

      What a great experience for your dad! And I think that’s great that he wanted to keep you so informed. And yeah, it could be!

      Did you ever get a chance to go visit the farm he grew up on?

  • Reply

    reneejohnsonwrites

    March 29, 2013

    We can’t raise our own animals for meat. I turn them into pets. Nice blog.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 30, 2013

      Haha! I totally understand, Renee. I probably would do the same thing.

      And thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. And thanks so much for commenting!

  • Reply

    Erica

    March 29, 2013

    ahahaha you are so precious! Though it can be emotionally hard to come to terms with that, I think it’s good to have an experience similar to this one where you can truly see where your food is coming from. It makes you that much more grateful for that greasy bacon as it’s putting a smile on your face :)

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 30, 2013

      I know, as uncomfortable and saddening as this experience was, it was a good learning experience. And yes, there’s definitely a lot more appreciation for my bacon! ;)

      I’m guessing you had a similar experience? Please share!

      • Reply

        Hilary Billings

        March 30, 2013

        And thank you for the sweet comment. But I’m definitely not as precious as that pig ;)

      • Reply

        Erica

        March 30, 2013

        Oh it was just this once when I had to, erm, “prepare” my own chicken at summer camp. Yeah, plucking a chicken? Not the nicest smell in the world.

        I also feel like a lot of Asian cultures tend to be much less removed about it. I mean, you will see chicken statues advertising a yakitori (chicken on a stick) establishment, and who hasn’t seen 2 aquariums at Asian seafood restaurants- one for decorative tropical fish and the other… the waiter asks if you if have a preference from it.

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          March 31, 2013

          Agh! They made you PLUCK your own CHICKEN? How old were you? I never thought about the smell, I was just thinking about the act of defeathering a bird. But thanks for the added queasiness ;)

          And you’re right. I hear about it all the time from friends in Asia. We’re spoiled as Americans. Or maybe it’s more of we’re just a spoiled generation of Americans.

          I don’t see the lobster fish tanks around much anymore, but I remember seeing them when I was a kid. I always wanted one to be in my aquarium. Especially if they had cool coloring. My mom always said no. She’s no fun.

  • Reply

    Kate

    March 30, 2013

    As a vegetarian I don’t have this problem!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 30, 2013

      Haha! Oh SURE. ;)

      But really, finding out where your food comes from really makes you second guess eating meat! How long have you been a vegetarian?

  • Reply

    aditya

    April 2, 2013

    hahhaha in a vegetarian too. but i can totally understand your feelings! :)

    • Reply

      aditya

      April 2, 2013

      i am*

  • Reply

    Raquel Ritz

    April 23, 2013

    This is why I try not to eat too much meat.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      April 25, 2013

      Yes, meeting your meal face-to-face certainly deters you from doing so! Thanks so much for commenting =).

  • Reply

    Jason Friedman

    April 25, 2013

    Hilary,

    It doesn’t have to be sad! As a vegan I can give names to all the sentient beings I meet with a pure conscience. As a amateur vegan chef I can make mouthwatering dishes that are free from cruelty, hormones, antibiotics and disease. For the animals, for the environment and for our health, for me it’s an obvious choice. The next time you find yourself in NY, I’d love to cook for you so that you may experience a vegan gastronomic experience so satisfying, it just may rock your culinary world, possibly resulting in a change that will forever allow you to respect all creatures who love, dream, raise children, socialize and mourn just like we (humans) do, as a compassionate friend and equal co-habitant of our planet.

    Incerdible blog!

    Jason

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      April 25, 2013

      Thanks so much for commenting, Jason! I would absolutely love that! Next time I’m in NY, it’s ON!

      And thank you for your kind words. =) I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying it! I hope you’ll continue reading and share with others!

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About Me

About Me

Hey fellow adventurers, my name is Hilary! After being rejected from grad school, I took off on a solo journey around the world. Now I constantly challenge myself to take on new experiences. This blog documents my journeys from Europe to Fiji, swimming with sharks and living with tribes, to becoming an accidental beauty queen and working for one of the top national media outlets. If you like what you're reading, please subscribe! Here's to the next great adventure!

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