Finding Religion at a Pig Pickin’

Earlier this summer a buddy of mine invited me to join him at a pig pickin’ hosted by his co-worker, Billy Mitchell.  I’ve been to quite a few pig pickin’s before but this was my first pig pickin’ hosted by someone I’d never met.  And yet it turned out to be one of my favorites.  Maybe it was the copious amounts of roasted pork I ate, or maybe it was the bucolic location complete with a “garden” that was probably a half an acre and goats, horses and other “pets.”  Maybe it was Billy demonstrating the shag to some recent New York transplants.  Whatever it was, I truly enjoyed my time at this pig pickin’.  Thanks, Billy, for inviting me to join and for sending me home with a bag full of ‘cue big enough to make my dog drool, my wife’s eyes roll and my breath smell like pork for several days.

Fire chief by day, fire starter by night: Billy Mitchell. (Photo by Conor "Swine factor" Keeney

Fire chief by day, fire starter by night: gracious host/pitmaster Billy Mitchell. (Photo by Conor "Swine Factor" Keeney.)

As I stood at the edge of Billy’s pond with a cold beer in my hand and hot grease coursing through my veins, I got to thinking about what makes pig pickin’s so special.  What separates them from an ordinary cookout or a potluck?  As best I could determine with a belly full of pork, rolls, slaw, tea, pickled beets, banana pudding, pickles, Lexington-style dip, and beer, it’s the fellowship that makes pig pickin’s stand out.  The dictionary definition of fellowship is, a “community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience” or “a company of equals or friends.”  Something about a pig pickin’ brings out this sense of community and equality.

What causes such great fellowship at pig pickin’s?  I think it has something to do with a pig pickin’ host spending all day cooking an 100+ pound hog just in order to share it with his friends, family, neighbors and whatever complete strangers (like me) might happen to drop by.  It’s an act of faith, devotion and sacrifice to put that much time, energy and care into a meal that hungry visitors will scarf down in a few minutes.  So, thanks for the food and fellowship Billy, and I hope I get to return the favor one of these days.