Today, hog roasts are seen everywhere. You can find them at every kind of event and gathering, from car boots, car shows, carnivals, food festivals and weddings. The list is endless!
So we thought that, given the huge popularity of the humble hog roast, we would turn back the clocks to look at the history and how it managed to rise to its current popular status.
How it all began
Early man didn't turn to cooking a hog roast to impress their wedding guests, that’s for sure, but what they did know was that cooked meat was better for them and tasted great to boot! They were also clearly aware of the fact that they couldn’t merely toss a hog on the fire. So they had to adapt, and therefore develop ways to lift their juicy pig up off the flame and cook it nice and slowly. It’s at this point that the concept of skewering was created. Obviously there were no metal skewers at this period, so wood or bone would have been used instead.
This brings us into Bronze and Iron Ages, which is when the aforementioned was invented. Here we had a great surge in craftsmen working to fashion whatever they could from the precious metals and one of the most prevalent areas in which innovation occurred was the kitchen. In what was almost an overnight success, pans, pots, knives and all kinds of utensils were brought to the fore. All of a sudden this revolutionized cooking.
The next stages
Next came the Middle Ages, which will appear synonymous with hog roasting when we think of films such as Robin Hood, Asterix and Lord of the Rings.
At this point It would have been more unusual to see a kitchen without a form of spit roast than with one. It was in these kitchens that people would have roasted an entire hog, skewered on a heavy iron bar over an open fire. In the more luxurious abodes, such as castles with big kitchens, there more than likely would have been a worker who was assigned to purely cranking the hog slowly while chef would add spices and baste – in an almost surgical procedure.
It was the Renaissance period that was behind the sauces being added to hog roasting. In Italy, when most of the people were learning and enjoying their painting, the chefs of Florence were getting busy basting their pigs with sugar and orange juice. Thanks to those innovative chefs, this notion spread in no time at all and the concept of “basting sauce” spread rapidly, with people trying their own sauces for themselves.
Sadly, as kitchens progressed, became more advanced and took on adapted forms, roasting an entire hog went out of favour, and largely because there just wasn’t the room that there used to be. As an alternative, butchers would offer cut up sections of the hog for customers to cook more conveniently.
By the late 1700s the hog roast was resigned to being offered at special events and was cooked over a specially built fire pit.
Hog roasts in other cultures
In the Pacific, the islanders used to line a pit with heated lave rocks. They would then season their hog with salt and wrap in the leaves of bananas. Once this was complete they would carefully lower the hog into the pit making sure they covered it with palm fronds immediately after. After being left for around 6 hours, the hog is ready for some good eatin’!
The modern hog roast
Today, as you will no doubt be aware, hog roasts have more than regained their popularity and their relevance. As we mentioned at the top of this post, people now use hog roast as a focal and talking point for a whole host of events, and there are festivals devoted entirely to people offering the most amazing flavours of pig that they can conjure up.
Top 5 Wedding Catering Trends to watch in 2018
January 16, 2018
How The Hog Roast Has Evolved Through the Ages
May 17, 2016
Tasty Trotter’s Top 5 steps to a successful and profitable catering business in 2018!