About a year ago my perception of China changed. My wife of 20 years, is from a small village in the Fujian Province of China. About 30 miles from Longyan (one of the major cities in the Fujian Province) sits a small town called Yensi, within Yensi there are many small villages, my wife is from one of those small villages, Xinlu. I visited this place for the first time last year and fell in love with it, I begged my wife to take me back. We arrived here 2 weeks ago and I am now wanting to call China my home.
Despite my wife moving to the United States nearly 25 years ago she has always stayed in touch with her elementary classmates. They communicate weekly via WeChat (popular social media app similar to facebook in China) and when her friends know we are coming into town its a party, and they know how to party. A lot of her friends have moved to the bigger city of Longyan (about 30 miles south) but a few have kept their roots in Yensi. One of them has a pig farm and it will take you back in time.
The roads going up to houses, in Xinlu, are narrow. They have only been added in the past 5 years or so. When you pull up to houses you can expect to see 2 things. Old, old buildings made of mud and sand and farm chickens running around. This is rural China at its best. You can smell the pig farm from blocks away. They own nearly 250 pigs and they are housed in old barn buildings. Inside the building are cages or stalls, 1 pig per stall, except for one side of the barn is where the mother pigs are tending to her piglets. I was born and raised in a middle class neighborhood near Salt Lake City, Utah, so this farming stuff is all new to me. Being a huge foodie I couldn’t get enough on this pig farm. I had to investigate. (I actually had my wife check with her classmate first to make sure there weren’t dogs by the barn door, a lot of farm owners do this to keep wild animals and stranger from walking off with their pigs.) When you first get to the barn door the smell hits you big time and then as you go to open the door the sound of 250 pigs snorting hits you and it’s a shock! The pigs are huge! Guessing 300 to 400 lbs each. Pigs lined up in stalls from end to end. There was a walkway down the center of the stalls, but it was narrow, like really narrow. So tight that I had to get the courage up to walk down the middle of it to get a closer look at these things. They are really big. I really wanted to snap photos but I was worried what would happen behind my back if I was lean down. I mean we are talking my snout to their snout and my rear end to their snout. (After about 20 minutes I got the courage, but was still very cautious.) To my right was where the mothers are tending to their piglets. About 20 of them all lined up hooked on at “tit” as the mother just lays there on her side appearing to sleep. (one mother actually jumped up, while her piglets were feeding, when she saw me, scaring the literal poop out of both me and her little ones. She then laid back down, phew!)
I happened to get there right in time, as my wife’s school mate husband, rolled in with the 1925 wheel barrow filled to the brim with what appeared to be ground corn. The entire barn erupted, it was clear to me and them it was dinner time. He went from stall to stall dumping a shovel scoop full of feed to each pig (he as obviously been doing this a long time because he didn’t flinch, when he had his back turned to some pigs that had jumped and had there two front legs hanging out of their stall patiently waiting their turn for dinner.) The entire barn was a snort fest. Grunting and snorting and who knows else what as they waited for their food. Once everyone had been fed the only sound you could hear was chomping.
After being entertained for nearly 30 minutes I was called in for dinner and we, along with 20 other classmates, had what I considered a five star meal. What was the main course? You got it, PORK. It was like pork I have never tasted. Big chunks of pure awesomeness. Half pork meat and half fat with a thing layer of skin. It had been deep fried and then stir fried (think they call this twice cooked pork in the States) with homegrown bok choy that had been dried and then everything simmered in a clay pot with ginger for what tasted liked 2 weeks. The pork was like butter. Melt in your mouth pork goodness. Words doesn’t do it justice. So good. There was an entire vat of it. There were also about 15 other dishes which are common to the Yensi area. Fresh winter bamboo with green onions. salt baked duck (which they said was one of their own), a spinach dish that was so simple but tasted nothing like the spinach I begged my mom to never serve again when I was little. Stir fried with pungent garlic and a little oil. The list goes on and on….just really good eats.
After a near 2 hour meal (her classmates know how to eat and have a good time) I stood up, surveyed the surroundings, tightened up the strings on my Reebok stretchy shorts (I think I have put on a few lbs in 2 weeks stay here) stretched my arms……then sat back down and had some more fatty pork. Oh relax, we were at a pig farm!
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