One of the humorous essay
s of Elia
). It describes the discovery
of the exquisite flavour
pig in China
in a time when all food was eaten raw (saying Confucius
designated a kind of golden age
by the term Cho-fang
, literally the Cook
A swineherd named Ho-ti left his son, a lubberly boy called Bo-bo, in charge of the pigs, and the lad happening to play with fire, set their cottage alight, and with it a fine litter of nine new-farrowed pigs, a much esteemed delicacy. The distressed Bo-bo then smelt something neither he nor anyone else had ever smelt before, and in seeking to find out whether any pig was still alive, he burnt his fingers and sucked them. Both smell and taste were delicious, and he soon convinced his father to try.
It was noticed thereafter that their cottage burnt down with surprising frequency, and they were eventually caught and put on trial for this impious horror. The evidence being passed round to the jurors, they all burnt their fingers, sucked them, and acquitted. "The insurance offices, one and all, shut up shop", as news of the invention spread, and houses all over the country burnt down over and over again.
Lamb then goes on to say the pig must be a young and tender suckling, and it must be roasted, not boiled, and the crackling must not be over-roasted. Then "he is -- good throughout. No part of him is better of worse than another. He helpeth, as far as his little means extend, all around. He is the least envious of banquets."
He discusses whether the former custom of whipping pigs to death to make their meat tender could be justified as giving so much pleasure to the eater as might outweigh the cruelty to the pig. He recalls a debate upon it, but "I forget the decision".