Roasting the Whole Hog

After the death of my friend I stayed about a week, and them left that place and went to Payta, which is a sea-port town.—Here I stayed but about one month before I again shipped on board a whaler called the Mechanic, of Newport, Rhode Island. Alter leaving this port we went down to Tombus, where we took in potatoes, squashes, onions and water melons. We then steered away for the offshore ground, which is about three thousand miles west of the coast of Peru. Here we took two whale, after which we steered away west until we came to the Reupore Islands, but we did not land here on account of the ferocity of the natives, who were armed with heavy, carved war-clubs. The land appeared to be good, but was mountainous, back from the shore. The people were almost white, but very savage in their appearance, and went almost naked.—What little clothing they had was made of grass wove into a species of cloth. This they tied around their waists. It reached down before nearly to the knees. These people have never permitted the missionaries to live among them, but they worship idols made of stone. They raise potatoes and oranges of the vegetable kind, and of the animal, hogs. Of these latter, we purchased a hog that would weigh two bundled pounds, for one whale tooth. What they do with the teeth I do not know. This the natives brought to us by swimming to the ship. From the last mentioned Islands we steered away west by north, about two thousand miles further, when we reached an island called Riotier, one of a group called the Society Islands. Here my time being up, I left the ship and went among the natives, who were a very friendly, hospitable people. Here I staved five months, and learned much of the customs and manners of the country. The people generally go naked, and men, women and children live promiscuously together.

Their houses are very simple, being constructed by driving posts into the ground and then by fastening beams made of round sticks to the top of these posts, and smaller sticks, covered with grass wove very compactly together to the beams. This forms the dwelling of these poor, but happy people. When the wind blows hard, or when it rains they heave up grass mats on the side of the house towards the wind. Under this frail covering whole families, sometimes consisting of twenty or thirty, are huddled together both by night and by day. The people are very indolent, having every thing necessary for their subsistence growing spontaneously around them. Their food is bread fruit, which grows upon trees somewhat resembling apple trees. It grows like an apple, but as large as a man’s head. This is prepared for eating by roasting it in the fire and by taking off the skin. Then it is sliced up the same as we slice up bread for the table. This is better than the best wheat bread. Of this fruit they have two crops in a year which lasts about two months and a half each crop. Then they have during the other parts of year two crops of Fayees, a kind of fruit that grows upon bushes about ten feet high and resembles large cucumbers. These are cooked by digging holes in the ground and then making hot fires in them and heating the same as we heat ovens. When the hole is sufficiently hot they clear out the fire, put in the fruit, and cover them over with large leaves. In about two hours they are sufficiently cooked.—When cooked, they become soft like a potatoe, but much more delicious. There is also a root, called tea-root, which is about four inches in diameter and two or three feet long.—These, when roasted, afford a juice similar to molasses. Besides these, they have plenty of good fish, hogs and cattle. Horses are very scarce, though I saw a few while there.

The people of this place, when they make a feast, which is often, roast a hog whole. This they do by digging a hole in the ground sufficiently large to put the animal in, then they build a large fire in it and heat it, as English people heat their ovens. While they are making the dirt oven ready, they have another large fire close by, where they heat small round stones. When these are sufficiently heated and the hole is also heated, they clear out the coals, and put a layer of the heated round stones upon the bottom, then they lay in the hog and cover it with large leaves, then over these a layer of the hot stones, then another of the leaves, and over all, they throw a layer of dirt. When the hog has become properly roasted, they take it out and lay it upon sticks prepared for that purpose, and the guests set round and eat.

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