The pig in Chinese astrology is tolerant and understanding, sympathetic and truthful. Pigs maintain order and authority and believe in justice.
Although Portuguese eat the most fish in the EU – over a kilo per person per week – pork remains extremely popular, especially in the north of the country. There – in Gimonde, near Bragança – you can even find a real pork museum (Museu do Bísaro), which says a lot about the national love for the beast.
Popular pork dishes are Leitão no forno (suckling pig – cooked for hours in wood-fired ovens with aromatic herbs), Bifana (pork steak in thin slices, often eaten on wheat bread called molete) and Rojões (cuts of pork from the thigh or belly, fried with lard and eaten with sauce of boiled blood and tripe).
There are many types of sausages (enchidos), encompassing an array of textures and tastes. Alheira, includes bread, chopped meat, and garlic. Morcela (or black pudding) is encased in jelly-textured blood, giving the sausage its consistency and dark colouring. Chouriça is a horseshoe-shaped smoked sausage, containing meat, blood, and pork fat of the indigenous Bísaro breed. Salpicão is also smoked but made primarily with pork loin.
In ancient Egypt, the pig was considered sacred and offered to the Moon, the Greeks honoured the goddess Porca and the Romans feasted on roasted piglets with honey.
Pigs – which descend from the wild boar (javali) – have been eaten worldwide for centuries, except by Jews and Muslims, who consider pork unclean.
Pig production in Europe is concentrated in a few countries. Denmark has the highest number of pigs per inhabitant, Portugal ten times less.
In recent years meat consumption has been placed under a magnifying glass in view of climate change – pork production generates four times fewer greenhouse emissions than beef – and carcinogenicity.
The consumption of red and processed meat – any meat that has been modified by salting, drying or smoking to improve its taste or extend its shelf life – has been extensively evaluated by the World Health Organization, which concluded that 50 gram eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer. These findings support the most recent scientific recommendations to limit the intake of meat as much as possible. The less the better!
Bom fim de semana Enjoy the weekend (pic SAPO/Observador)