Real piggishness. Pigs at the butcher festival in Transcarpathia were not slaughtered, but … cut and eaten (PHOTOREPORT)

The butcher festival in Hecha, Berehove raion usually began with the squealing of pigs that were to be slaughtered. Then followed the butcher mastery competition (to decide the best one to disassemble a carcass). Only then the celebration turned into a culinary and folk festival.

However, the Hecha event received a somewhat different accent this year. Vegans protested against the festival. Because of their claiming the festival inhuman, more people got to know about it (protests burst out even in Kyiv from where a message was sent to the Hungarian embassy). In addition, the organisers decided to cancel the scene of the very slaughter of the pigs. The butchers began their work already with the carcasses that were brought to the festival.

Each butcher was to demonstrate their professionalism and craft. Some are able to cope in 5 minutes. Speed and accuracy are valued while disassembling the carcass – separating the head, intestines, fat, hock (shovdar) and the technique of blood pulling.

Actually, the celebration is dedicated to the butcher’s profession ­– a man, who does a hard, dirty but a necessary job. By the way, cooks confirm: the taste of the meals depends on the quality of the work performed by the butcher.

And there is a vast quantity of meals made of pork. They emphasise at the festival that the pig is an animal whose almost every part is used in food. Even their ears are smoke-dried as snack to beer. Aspic jelly is made of their hoofs. Their intestines are filled with forcemeat to produce sausages…

There was no lack of such goods at the festival.

The traditional “commemoration of the pig” consisted of drinking as thanksgiving to the animal that feeds. After it came the cooking.

The first meal was blood fried in a pan with spices and onion. Then came pieces of fresh pork. Hungarians and Transcarpathians as well often eat this meal with cabbage. What comes next only depends on the imagination of the cook.

The only foreign team, from the Hungarian Lakitelek town, had a special menu. It was not their first time at the festival. They had won it several times. Now, they wanted to amuse the public instantly.

Anita Kiss, the city Mayor and Gyula Torni, the chef of the team claim that by participating in such events they support the traditions.

And cooking is pleasure. “Today, we have spicy fried blood with onion and pieces of leaver for snack and a “vitamin bomb”: fresh meat with vegetables. The first dish leves (soup) “is with horseradish and pork cheeks to preserve strength and might”. The second is called “the cardiologist’s nightmare”… a piece of meat stuffed with tasty filling and baked in batter. “Toros káposzta” (pork ribs with sauerkraut) and different blood sausages were served on the tables.

We ask more about the soup. “When we cook the hurka (blood sausage), we keep the liquid. We drain it, add species – salt, pepper and a little of cumin. Then we add sauerkraut brine and prepare sauce with sour cream. When everything is well cooked and thickened we add meat strips from the pig head, mainly cheeks. Finally, it is time for the high-quality rubbed horseradish. It was specially brought from Hungary…It gives the soup a unique taste”, – told the cook.

Viktor Pogány, a participant of the festival shares with us the secrets of a meal without which no Transcarpathian festival can be held. It is the bograch. “The main trick is to know the proper order of the ingredients and how to stew the meat in the first place. If there’s a mistake in it, the dish won’t be tasty. You don’t need to cook the meat, but to stew it. Without water. The same concerns the onion. I add then carrot and paprika to it… I also put dumplings in the bograch. You can make them by yourself, but I use special Hungarian ones. Because if we cook in a large cauldron, we can easily overboil them. And, of course, pepper. What concerns lard, I prefer greaves. I often cook bograch using veal. I mean it to have meat on the plate. Although pork is very tasty, it boils over. In general, bograch has to be nourishing and spicy!”.

Each host has his own recipe for sausages – says Tihomir, who conjures over the meat and the cauldron with soup. “You’ll never be wrong if you take 180-200 grams of salt, 150 grams of red pepper (but truly red!), 50 grams of hot paprika, 100 grams of black pepper and a little of coriander or other species for 10 kilograms of meat. There are three obligatory components: meat, salt and pepper. Then it is up to your imagination. But the meat has to contain 25-30 percent lard for the sausage not to be “dry”. Such sausage can be either smoke-dried or freshly fried”.

Here, Mr Laci from Velyka Dobron just grinds meat for sausages. It is not surprising that the meat is red. Its home village is the “capital of paprika”. Thus, paprika is an integral part here. The recipe of tasty pork sausage is not difficult, says the man. “I add 200 grams of red paprika, 180 grams of salt, a little of fresh grinded garlic and a bit of cumin to 10 kilograms of meat.” The trick of the preparing of the sausage lies within the fact that it is made of mangalica. They are ‘bio’-pigs that eat only natural food, no compound food. Incomparable. Taste it!”.

Although 13 teams took part in the competition, many more pigs were eaten. Vegans sadly stood at the entrance with posters. To diversify their protest they could only try to take away meat products from tourists…

All in all, there can be found serious complaints (they can be found on the author’s blog). All in all, there can be found serious complaints (they can be found on the author’s blog) concerning the organisation of the festival and the convenience of the visitors. However, nothing negative can be said about the skills of the butchers, the industriousness of the cooks and the culinary part that was intended to preserve traditions…

The atmosphere of the butchers’ festival and the tasty food is in the photoreport.

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The butcher festival in Hecha, Berehove raion usually began with the squealing of pigs that were to be slaughtered. Then followed the butcher mastery competition (to decide the best one to disassemble a carcass). Only then the celebration turned into a culinary and folk festival.

However, the Hecha event received a somewhat different accent this year. Vegans protested against the festival. Because of their claiming the festival inhuman, more people got to know about it (protests burst out even in Kyiv from where a message was sent to the Hungarian embassy). In addition, the organisers decided to cancel the scene of the very slaughter of the pigs. The butchers began their work already with the carcasses that were brought to the festival.

Each butcher was to demonstrate their professionalism and craft. Some are able to cope in 5 minutes. Speed and accuracy are valued while disassembling the carcass – separating the head, intestines, fat, hock (shovdar) and the technique of blood pulling.

Actually, the celebration is dedicated to the butcher’s profession ­– a man, who does a hard, dirty but a necessary job. By the way, cooks confirm: the taste of the meals depends on the quality of the work performed by the butcher.

And there is a vast quantity of meals made of pork. They emphasise at the festival that the pig is an animal whose almost every part is used in food. Even their ears are smoke-dried as snack to beer. Aspic jelly is made of their hoofs. Their intestines are filled with forcemeat to produce sausages…

There was no lack of such goods at the festival.

The traditional “commemoration of the pig” consisted of drinking as thanksgiving to the animal that feeds. After it came the cooking.

The first meal was blood fried in a pan with spices and onion. Then came pieces of fresh pork. Hungarians and Transcarpathians as well often eat this meal with cabbage. What comes next only depends on the imagination of the cook.

The only foreign team, from the Hungarian Lakitelek town, had a special menu. It was not their first time at the festival. They had won it several times. Now, they wanted to amuse the public instantly.

Anita Kiss, the city Mayor and Gyula Torni, the chef of the team claim that by participating in such events they support the traditions.

And cooking is pleasure. “Today, we have spicy fried blood with onion and pieces of leaver for snack and a “vitamin bomb”: fresh meat with vegetables. The first dish leves (soup) “is with horseradish and pork cheeks to preserve strength and might”. The second is called “the cardiologist’s nightmare”… a piece of meat stuffed with tasty filling and baked in batter. “Toros káposzta” (pork ribs with sauerkraut) and different blood sausages were served on the tables.

We ask more about the soup. “When we cook the hurka (blood sausage), we keep the liquid. We drain it, add species – salt, pepper and a little of cumin. Then we add sauerkraut brine and prepare sauce with sour cream. When everything is well cooked and thickened we add meat strips from the pig head, mainly cheeks. Finally, it is time for the high-quality rubbed horseradish. It was specially brought from Hungary…It gives the soup a unique taste”, – told the cook.

Viktor Pogány, a participant of the festival shares with us the secrets of a meal without which no Transcarpathian festival can be held. It is the bograch. “The main trick is to know the proper order of the ingredients and how to stew the meat in the first place. If there’s a mistake in it, the dish won’t be tasty. You don’t need to cook the meat, but to stew it. Without water. The same concerns the onion. I add then carrot and paprika to it… I also put dumplings in the bograch. You can make them by yourself, but I use special Hungarian ones. Because if we cook in a large cauldron, we can easily overboil them. And, of course, pepper. What concerns lard, I prefer greaves. I often cook bograch using veal. I mean it to have meat on the plate. Although pork is very tasty, it boils over. In general, bograch has to be nourishing and spicy!”.

Each host has his own recipe for sausages – says Tihomir, who conjures over the meat and the cauldron with soup. “You’ll never be wrong if you take 180-200 grams of salt, 150 grams of red pepper (but truly red!), 50 grams of hot paprika, 100 grams of black pepper and a little of coriander or other species for 10 kilograms of meat. There are three obligatory components: meat, salt and pepper. Then it is up to your imagination. But the meat has to contain 25-30 percent lard for the sausage not to be “dry”. Such sausage can be either smoke-dried or freshly fried”.

Here, Mr Laci from Velyka Dobron just grinds meat for sausages. It is not surprising that the meat is red. Its home village is the “capital of paprika”. Thus, paprika is an integral part here. The recipe of tasty pork sausage is not difficult, says the man. “I add 200 grams of red paprika, 180 grams of salt, a little of fresh grinded garlic and a bit of cumin to 10 kilograms of meat.” The trick of the preparing of the sausage lies within the fact that it is made of mangalica. They are ‘bio’-pigs that eat only natural food, no compound food. Incomparable. Taste it!”.

Although 13 teams took part in the competition, many more pigs were eaten. Vegans sadly stood at the entrance with posters. To diversify their protest they could only try to take away meat products from tourists…

All in all, there can be found serious complaints (they can be found on the author’s blog) concerning the organisation of the festival and the convenience of the visitors. However, nothing negative can be said about the skills of the butchers, the industriousness of the cooks and the culinary part that was intended to preserve traditions…

The atmosphere of the butchers’ festival and the tasty food is in the photoreport.

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