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The Columbian Exchange: Pigs
Transcript of The Columbian Exchange: Pigs
By: Andrew Schwartz
Origin of Pigs
The domesticated pig was transferred from the old world (Europe) to the new world (the Americas).
Pigs, Horses, and Cattle arrived with Columbus' on his 2nd voyage to the West Indes in 1493.
Only 13 years later, these pigs enjoyed their new land so much, that the explorers needed to have pig hunts just to keep their pigs in check.
American animals, like Llamas, Alpacas, and Guinea Pigs weren't extremely desirable by Eurasians, but imports to the Americas, like Horses, Cattle, and PIGS were massively important.
Pigs themselves completely remade the food supply:
They were advantageous to settlers because they could eat just about anything, and breed very quickly.
Christopher Columbus himself brought eight pigs, the razorback and other feral pigs, with him when he landed in the West Indes
Hernando de Soto brought 13 pigs when he arrived in Florida in 1539, and after he died three years later, there were 700.
Juan Cabrillo, the Spanish settler, brought feral swine to California and Arizona in 1542.
These pigs were all transferred by boat.
Who/When/How/Where were pigs transported?
PIGS AND THE COLUMBIAN EXCHANGE
Consequences of the diffusion of pigs:
Ecologically - Like I said earlier, the explorers had to hunt the pigs to keep them in check, and also because they were supposedly killing cows.
Today, nearly 500 years from de Soto's arrival, feral or feral-and-wild boars can be found in at least 20 states, and between 500,000 to 2,000,000 feral pigs live in the United States.
Economically - The influx of pigs and other animals allowed ranching economies to emerge. Native Americans used the livestock for meat, tallow, hides, transportation, and hauling. Altogether, the suite of domesticated animals from Eurasia brought a biological, economic, and social revolution to the Americas.
Population - The influx of food from the Columbian Exchange had a massive effect on the world population, DOUBLING IT.
Nutritionally - Pigs were commonly enjoyed for their taste, and contributed to the worldwide population increase given the amount of food they provided for individuals. Epidemic diseases spread quickly in herd animals, such as cows and pigs.
Overall, pigs and other European animals played a massive role in the Columbian Exchange, revolutionizing both the way people in the Americas ate, and did work (farmed, ranched).
How to roast a pig.
Equipment and Ingredients
The biggest piece of equipment you'll need is a spit. I don't know anyone who owns their own spit, but fortunately many farms that sell small pigs will also rent spits out for a relatively minimal fee. Call your local farms and inquire.
You'll also need:
Charcoal briquettes. You can be all macho and use hardwood coal instead of briquettes, but I find it burns too fast and too hot, and is difficult to maintain the slow, even heat necessary for prolonged cooking. Plan on at least one pound of coals per pound of pig, but have an extra 25 pounds or so on hand. You don't want to make a coal run in the middle of the roast.
A chimney starter. It's the most efficient way to light a batch of coals.
A long set of tongs for arranging the coals underneath the pig during cooking.
Kosher salt is the only seasoning you need. The pig should have plenty of flavor on its own. Rub the salt generously on the pig inside and out.
The most crucial step is securing the pig to the spit. Dead pigs are heavy, and unless they are extremely well secured, they have a tendency to flop around as the spit turns if you don't secure them properly. Ensure your pig stays nice and secure.
The cooking itself is a lazy process. Once you get the coals under the pig and the pig turning (most spits have an electric motor to rotate the pig automatically), you can sit back and relax, tending to it only once every half hour or so to ensure that the coals are still hot and the pig is not over or under cooking.
Low and slow is the goal. If your pig starts taking on a burnished color within the first hour, you're going too fast. Either slow down the rate at which you are adding coals, or raise the pig a few inches from the heat source (most spits are also adjustable in height).
The last half hour is where all the skin-crisping crackly magic happens, and requires high heat, so you'll want to pile on the coals at the very end, rotating the pig as necessary to expose every inch of skin to the intense blast of heat. If all goes well, it'll bubble into blistery pustules that crackle and dissolve in your mouth