Pig Weekend – A Delle Donne family tradition


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“Pig Weekend?” you say?  Indeed, Pig Weekend! 2 days spent with a large Italian family and their friends out on their farm near Paarl preparing (and eating) 3 pigs for charcuterie.  This incredible annual event documented in pictures, after the jump.

The Delle Donne family own Zandam farm, nestled behind Paarl in an extraordinarily beautiful part of the Cape.  Cheese & pork products are produced on the farm, and the methods of preparation used are from Nonna’s generation.  The pigs are fed on the whey from cheese-making, as was done many years ago, so this really is an authentic operation.

It begins with all the men gathering on Friday morning to start disjointing, curing, mincing & spicing the just-slaughtered pigs.  Friday is a men-only bonding day; the women and children arrive at the farm on Saturday morning to help with the remainder of the preparation and to eat, drink and make merry.  This year was the 21st year that the Delle Donne’s and their friends have been gathering together for Pig Weekend, and is testament to the wonderful closeness this family has.  It made me yearn for a similar family tradition of my own.

The road to all things porky

Simon poses next to one of our subjects. Well, half of it, anyway.

Meaty bones for braai'ing & cotechini (spiced, minced skin, fat & meat in a casing for flavouring soups)

Salted legs for proscuitto

Filling & pricking salciccia

William & Michael Everson carefully filling salame

Tino shows off his salami twisting skills

Vito attaches the metal clamps to the salami

The beginnings of a slooooow-cooked pork stew with cannellini beans, tomatoes, bay leaves & onions

Titina gets stuck in there

Garda & Titina. The women are in charge now!

Almost ready. At the 3 hour mark here.

Tino got half a pig head going early Saturday morning with lots of white wine, fennel, garlic, onions & rosemary. It took about 6 hours to cook, and literally melted in your mouth. Too delicious when eaten on crusty bread!

'Kaaings' refer to mostly fat and a bit of meat from the pig, chopped into cubes, and rendered down very slowly over a low heat until crisp.

Michael stirs the kaaings during the rendering process

3-4 hours later, the kaaings have rendered down. The liquid lard will be reserved for future cooking, and the kaaings specifically for making & flavouring bread.

Crispy kaaings. Not entirely different to crackling.

Lunch time, and bunches of rosemary get added to the coals just before the meaty bones go on.

Simon spices the pork bones just as they go on. Nothing beats braai salt!

The bones are almost done. Chilli flakes are added for extra zing, and the masses gather around to begin feasting... Not a knife & fork in sight. Love it!

After lunch, we take a break and indulge in a bit of buggy action. On dusty farm roads, this thing brought BIG smiles to young and old folk alike.

I wandered off to go and have a look at the almost 1 day old piglets.

Ann and Piglet share adoring glances.

And then there was boule...

Much strategic talk. Italians take their boule very seriously.

...and play continues long into the evening amidst a most beautiful backdrop.


The sun goes down in a big way out here.

Thanks to the Eversons & Mullers for including me, and for allowing me to record their special family event.

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  1. lee
  2. Wendy Hardie
  3. Wendy Hardie

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