Gigi the Pig

Suggested Wines: Pomino Roso, Frescobaldi (Grapes: Sangioveto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Nero); Romito del Romitorio, Romitorio (Grapes: Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon)

Visiting my grandfather Beppe’s farm was always a treat for me, espeically when he let me play with his prized boar, Gigi. Gigi was huge and grizzly with a long snout covered with bristles. I called him Gig the Stud, which wasn’t poetic license, it was fact. Before my grandfather took Gigi to a neighboring farm to work, my job was to wash him and brush him and get him ready. In those days, Gigi was very much in demand in the nieghborhood- so much so that he got two pigs every time he mated with a sow- and his prowess was a great source of pride for Grandpa Beppe. One year, Gigi brought home ninety pigs, giving new meaning to bringing home the bacon- or pancetta, as the case may be.

Eventually, technology intervened, and the demand for Gigi’s services dropped off. If he’d been any other pig, we’d have butchered Gigi, but Gigi being Gigi, we let him live out his days in peace.

Toward the end, when Gigi started to lose his appetite, I remembered how he had once loved Grandma Maria’s conserva, the tomato sauce she cooked and canned in huge batched every summer when tomatoes were at their peak. At the end of the day, she would slur the leftover pulpy skins and seeds into the pig trough, and Gigi would lap them up midair. With that in mind, I started stealing into Maria’s pantry to sneak out a jar of conserva to mix into Gigi’s feed. He loved it. Lucky for me, Beppe and Maria never found out, but I’m convinced it added months to his life.