What does it mean for an apple to be put in a pig’s mouth?

Steven Raichlen, who wrote “The Barbecue! Bible,” says that apples were fed to pigs to make them fat enough to eat at harvest festivals in the fall. Putting an apple in the mouth of a roasted or dead pig might be a way to show the cycle of a pig’s life and death.

Whether it’s alive or dead, the pig gets to “eat” an apple. Raichlen also said that the apples are only there for looks. A roasted pig looks better with an apple on it.

Putting an apple in the mouth of a roasted pig is an old custom that goes back at least 800 years. A roasted pig is both a meal and a decoration, just like a Thanksgiving turkey. A harvest party has a fall feel and theme when a juicy pig is topped with fruits and vegetables.

Some farmers say that giving apples to pigs makes the pork taste sweeter. Some traditions put the apple in the pig’s mouth before cooking, while others use an ear of corn or a ball of aluminium foil during cooking and then replace it with an apple before serving. Pigs are roasted as a holiday tradition in many places in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. Asians roast pigs for New Year’s, while Europeans do it for Christmas. It is also customary to eat the roasted apple.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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