History and Fun Facts
The Pig Piñata
A thousand years before Speck, the ancient Romans believed that "The pig was made for
the banquet table". Guests at a banquet in the Roman Empire expected to be served
sophisticated, elaborately prepared meats. The presentation of the meats, however, could
be extremely unusual.
One example is the Satyricon, written by Petronius in the late first century A.D. It includes
a famous dinner, "Trimalchio's Feast", that is a satire on the eating habits of the upper
classes. The guests don't realize it, but the dinner is interactive entertainment, with the
joke on them. At one point, a huge whole cooked hog is brought in. Trimalchio, the host,
starts yelling at the cook because the hog has been cooked but it wasn't gutted and
cleaned first. The cook miserably admits that, yes, he forgot to gut the hog. Trimalchio has
the cook stripped naked and calls for two torturers. All the guests immediately start
making excuses for the cook, even though they think that he is inexcusably careless. Then
Trimalchio tells the cook that he can gut the hog right there, in front of everybody, to
prove what an idiot he is. The cook puts his tunic back on, and slashes the hog's belly.
Cooked sausages and cured meats come spilling out, like a pig piñata. Everyone bursts
into applause, and the cook gets a drink for his performance.