Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Pig baskets

I was randomly googling "pig biscuits" trying to make myself feel good looking at pig-shaped cookies (I seem to have gotten a slight flu). But the subject of pigs is, as always, ambiguous ...

I came across the blog of Singaporean dimsumdolly. She writes at one point about sweet mid-autumn delights, such as mooncakes. Leftover dough from mooncakes is used to make another kind of pastry:

"In order not to waste the dough, the bakeries make it into shapes of mini piglets and place them in these baskets. It was said that in the olden days in China, these "Zhu Long" (猪笼 pig baskets) made of bamboo were used to drown adulterous couples. The villagers would place the adulterous pair in a basket each and throw them into the sea."

A harsh tradition from harsh times, but these "pig baskets" are in fact a horrible way of transporting live pigs that seems to be pretty common in East Asia even today, though nowadays the baskets are not always made of bamboo. If you can handle it, here is a picture of the practise, and here another one (in Vietnam). The pigs are indeed alive - when they are dead no baskets are used. (Read more about livestock transport in Asia and the Pacific in Guidelines for Humane Handling, Transport and Slaughter of Livestock by the Asia/Pacific regional office of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.)

Of course, it should go without saying that the transport of pigs in the meat industry of other parts of the world is usually not much more humane.

1 comment:

ainur said...

What a strange parallel to the European tradition of replacing human sacrifice with pigs, and the Melanesian tale of pig meat replacing human meat on the islanders' menu...