Monday photos: This little pig is not a guinea pig

It's a bit late to be posting these photos, but here they are. In Europe, the pig is considered a lucky symbol of the New Year; in Switzerland for instance people give each other little peppermint pigs. Here in our little town in Provence, these were for sale for New Year's Eve celebrations.


It's a paté in the shape of a cochon (pig). But to reminded me of that Peruvian delicacy, the cuy - a roasted guinea pig. (I won't post a photo because it's going to give me the shivers, but, if you want to know, go here.) I wouldn't have bought it myself, but The Guy was in charge of New Year's Eve festivities chez M and M, and he thought it looked cute.

Is it cute? it scary? Look at that face. Aww/eww? (The eyes are black peppercorns.)


It's really funny how squeamish we can get about food with well, faces, even if it's just molded. I dont have a problem with fish heads, but a lot of people can't stand them either.

Once le petit cochon was sliced up, it was fine - a standard homemade type pork and chicken paté, quite delicious. Still, I couldn't get the image of that little face staring at me out of my head. I'm not sure if we'll be getting another one next year. I'm inclined to think we'll go for a plain square version instead.


What do you think? Would you have eaten the pig-paté? How do you feel about food with faces? ^_^

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Actually, come to think of it, all animals that humans eat have faces. It's just easier to eat it when it's just a slab of meat on the chopping board or place, as this way it no longer makes us think that this could have been a living animal with feelings and thoughts (which we might tend to see expressed on faces).

Well I'm a vegetarian, go figure :-P

Agreed. I am a vegan now and loving it.

I also believe some people choose to forget that meat was a living creature when they set out to cook/eat, but not all... possibly not even the majority.

But as recently as two generations ago, rural people routinely raised and processed their own livestock. My grandparents certainly did, and their familiarity with the animals from birth to slaughter did not turn them into vegetarians.

I think many folks would continue consuming meat at their current rate, even if they had to raise and kill the animal.

I think the patee cute, and I'd defenitly buy it myself if it was sold anywhere near me! Still, I had eaten a cuy a few years ago, I'm not squeamish about my food! But I know about people, especially English and America, getting the shock of their lives when served a fish with the head still on!


The wonky eye takes it to another level of Oh-Jesus.


The wonky eye takes it to another level of Oh-Jesus.[/quote]
Hahah that's exactly what I thought. This poor little fellow deserves a burial rather than being on someone's lunch table. Kawaisoo :D

Anyway, I don't have issues with most food with heads but this looks too much like a preserved guinea pig for me to bear carving into it. I think it's because it's a tiny, cute, fluffy animal that we only have as pets. I'm sure I'd feel the same way if it were shaped like a rabbit or a mouse.

Absolutely I would eat it. I'm even tempted to try making one.

NOT cute. Kinda scary. Definitely not appetizing. I'm an omnivore, and I'm all in favor of facing the facts about meat, but the table is the place to enjoy your food, not to face its former identity as a living breathing animal.

I'm not really opposed to eating anything shaped like animals. I mean, we have Peeps, Goldfish, Hello Panda crackers...but that just looks downright gruesome. Its head looks like it's been partially melted off to one side (the uneven eyes don't help either), and the fact that its crouched like an animal just about to be slaughtered is a just a weeny bit unsettling.

haha, I still have problems eating marshmallow peeps.

Nope, not cute. I felt quite funny looking at it. I am a very reluctant meat eater. With a face on, it's awful. I'm sure my husband would have quite the opposite opinion.

I am mainly vegetarian but have included some seafood. I can use less and less because many are now farmed. With faces? No, can't do it whether wild or not.

I think this pig is too creapy, because it looks too much like the fetal pig I had to disect in biology and that was sad. But I don't think I have a problem with fish heads, maybe just the other meat heads in my food.

It makes me a little squeamish, even knowing what it really is. Chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps are one thing, but that pate looks too much like a real guinea pig, shrink-wrapped. I bet it was good, though.

I wouldn't call the paté cute, but it is OK and I wouldn't mind eating it. I am not particularly squeamish about meat, If you're carnivore, you know that the pâté or steak comes from an animal (even a sweet lamb or veal). And we regularly buy Spanish jamón at home, with foot (hoof?) and all. The only things that really gross me out are fish eyes and the little beady black eyes on shrimp or lobsters. Just the idea of them looking at me from the dish, is making me shiver. Luckily I've got a partner who's not afraid to just chop off the heads for me :o)

Hmm, I come from a Chinese family, so I was raised "knowing" that the meat on your plate comes from something with a face. After all, we regularly got to pick the live fish in the aquarium that we wanted to eat, live chickens at the food markets in Hong Kong, we had whole suckling pigs for festive occasions, Peking duck with heads still on hanging behind the windows of restaurants...

So when there's a "face" on my dinner table, I don't think it's disgusting at all. In fact, my family would think it's a waste to cut off the head of a fish (my uncle even eats the eyes, but... that's a step too far even for me).

If it truly looked like a pig I'd have no problem (I love whole roast pig). With it looking like a pet guinea pig, or dirty rodent is a bit off putting. I must say the inside of it looks delicious!

It's not so much the food-with-a-face thing for me, more your pate is a dead ringer for the fetal pig I dissected as a sophomore in high school. I looked at the picture and swore that I smelled formaldehyde. You're a braver woman than me, Maki!

Fetal pig was my first thought too.

That said, I would buy and eat this percisely because it is a little creepy. Because it looks like a fetal pig, I would probably present it on something that looked like that black cork in the steel dissection tray. Crushed choclate wafers wouldn't be the right taste, but it would look right.

Things like this crack me right up!

Perhaps sheets of nori on a cookie sheet would approximate the right look without adding flavor. A disposable scalpel for slicing would complete the setup. :D

A lovely party snack for veterans of A&P class who have a slightly morbid sense of humor!

Hummmm, I would not have bought it if I were the one shopping. Not because it has the face, but the way the face looks. It looks kind of distorted and spooky. I would totally eat Hawaiian Luau.

I thought of Japanese tradition of eating fish with heads on.It does not bother me, but my American husband has to hide the head or cut it off before eating it.

One of the features of medieval European cookery was the subtlety, or soltetey, or however you chose to spell it: a piece of food disguised to look like something else. Gingerbread houses and marzipan fruits are a relic of that custom.

But cooks in the Society for Creative Anachronism still make subtleties for special occasions. Here are a few examples:

The Dragon Guarding Its Treasure: I made a pork forcemeat in a ring mold and cooked it. Then I took a soft pastry and covered the meat with it, crafting a head and tail and spikes along its back. Yes, it had a face, a fierce draconian face with two red candied cherries for eyes. The treasure around which it was curled was saffron-colored rice with bits of red and green candied cherries mixed in. I won a cooking contest with that one.

When I married (forty years ago now), my friend Karen made two subtleties for my wedding feast. One was Yrchouns, or hedgehogs: she took pigs' stomachs (she found a specialty butcher who sold them) and stuffed them with forcemeat. There's a pointed bit on one end of the stomach which, if you lay it down correctly, looks like a little pointed nose. Two cloves for eyes, almond slivers all along the back for quills, and the result looked like a lot of little urchins, or hedgehogs, sitting quietly with their little paws tucked under their noses.

Then she made a roasted cockatrice (a mythological monster, half bird and half beast): the rear half of a sucking pig, plus a whole capon. The tail end of the capon was inserted into the front end of the pig, the whole stuffed with forcemeat and roasted with the capon's neck propped up with skewers. The join between the capon and the pig was covered (just before serving) with bay leaves, and she contrived a head for the monster with an artichoke and a carrot.

And every year for a party in November, the time for boar hunts, my daughter and I make a Mock Boar's Head. The meaty part of the head is made from fruitcake, and the braincase from almond cake--- both Elizabethan recipes. Then the cake is covered with marzipan, a crabapple inserted in the mouth, the whole head painted a rich brown with food coloring: except for the fierce curling tusks, which are left white. It's served as the last course of the feast, and someone carries it in singing,

"The Boar's Head in hand bear I,
Bedecked with bays and rosemary.
And I pray you my masters, be merry,
Quot estis in covivio."

On the other hand, I don't care for shrimp cooked Chinese-fashion with the head and shell on. It's not looking at the little buggy faces that bothers me, it's eating the little bodies shell and all (or, alternatively, peeling them and getting my hands all gucky.)

Long ago my husband and I raised chickens, pigs and rabbits. He butchered them and I cooked them. We are mostly vegetarians now until last week when he got a hankering for a rabbit dinner. He bought a whole skinned rabbit and I almost had my eyes closed as I tucked the body into a frying pan - the pate reminded me of a tiny little animal I cannot for the life of me imagine ever eating again.

Many years ago, my Swiss mother in law proudly brought out a frozen rabbit from the freezer and said she was going to cook that for us for dinner. I instinctively said "nooooo" and made a face, which I regretted right away since I probably offended her. But, still, it was like a stretched out bunny. I have eaten bunny a couple of times (I try to make myself eat everything at least once), but I didn't enjoy it since I couldn't get the image of Bunny out of my head. It sort of felt like...cannibalism. ^_^; (Yeah I have distorted self-image issues)

*fellow Year of the Rabbit high-fives* I also identify with the rabbit, even though kitties are more my favorite animal.

I like pate, and don't mind fish heads, but like others have said, this is more zombie than animal. If offered I'd take a slice off the butt-end, as if that makes any more sense! But then the leftover decapitated head would be even creepier!

Guess I am one of "those" Americans. I know things come with faces and I don't mind cutting up a chicken or even eating organ meets that others might not appreciate.

But please let's leave the faces of things off my plate.

ditto daphne - my family is also chinese & from hong kong, so we're all used to food with heads & faces. maybe it's an asian thing?

Well, I have eaten everything from fish eyes to pig ears, chicken feet etc no problem. Unfortunately as pointed out, this looks like a fetal pig for dissection or a hairless guinea pig, NEITHER of which I would eat, so....yes for some reason this really throws me off. Maybe it is also the placenta-like aspic ooze on it, which normally I find delightful on pate but in this case makes me ill. Did you see the Serious Eats post a couple months back on the pig shaped... ham I think? I had no problem with that, but this one, I would never eat.

I don't have a problem with things with faces, or with eating small cuddly mammals. (I grew up on a farm. The pet lambs were named Roast, Steak, and Chuck) But! I don't think I could eat that. That one looks like a zombie pig, and just doesn't look appetizing. And, what is this pate it's made out of? Is it like a meat loaf?

Your pet lamb names crack me up! As for the piggie, it was a smooth textured pate with chicken, pork and chicken liver.

In our younger days my husband and I raised rabbits for the table. Our breeding stock had personal names, but their destined-for-the-cookpot offspring were named Dinner, Dinner, Dinner, and Dinner. :)

I don't have any issues with my food having a face or form. If anything, I find it preferable to have such an emotional reminder of the source of my food so as to appreciate it more. Also cute renditions of animal figures in the form of sweets, etc. is fun.

This pate piggy is neither of those! I think it's the plastic wrap or something but it just does not look appetizing. I would eat it if it were served to me but I wouldn't buy it.

I do think a lot of Americans prefer not to be reminded of the source of their meat because more often than not that source is revoltingly inhumane. If people insisted on having any connection to their food, the American food industry such as it is would never survive.

Apart from fish, I also don´t like to see food with face or to recognize the animal shape on the table. I often think about how funny it is that I don´t have a problem with fish heads, but get quite unconfortable when it comes mammals, or even poultry. Call me crazy, but I think it´s because those are a bit more evolved and I feel close (evolutionary)to them.

On the other hand, I deeply dislike restaurants with aquarius. The last thing I want in my mind is to be reminded that my meal used to be a living animal, let it alone the fact that I might have seen it while waiting to be seated. One night I went out with my family to try fugu, and as we stepped into the restaurant the first thing we saw was an aquarius with a few blowfish in it. It was a special occasion, so I made an effort and tried it anyways, but I just couldn´t look at the aquarius on my way out. I felt so guilty! So, I was very relieved when my husband pointed out to me that the number of fish in the aquarius was still the same from when we arrived. At least those ones did not become my sashimi. Silly feeling, right?

This is indeed a very interesting subject ! When I was a kid, I used to hate to have easy to identify parts of the body of animals. But I got used to it, and rather prefer to keep this kind of honesty toward what we are really eating.

I wish every product had a picture or photo on the front of the animals that were sacrificed to make it.
I have no problem with people eating meat I just wish they would do so responsibly. Unfortunately, as animal flesh is successfully turned into fantastical neutral pork or beef 'stuff' that somehow grew in magic food factories in the minds of so many people, the welfare of the living, breathing, eating, pooing, peeing creatures is also pushed far out of mind.
Ignoring the fact that you are eating pig when eating pate seems extremely disrespectful and uncaring to me and it gives those who profit from disrespectful and uncaring practices carte blanche to continue with those practices in the farming, transport and slaughter industries.
Since I wouldn't be able to look any pigs in the eye whilst they were slaughtered I don't eat them and take care also not to eat things with pig byproducts in them.
I do kill fish and feel it's right to see the whole corpse laid in front of me as I pick through their beautiful anatomy. I also think it's fair that the fish has a chance to get me back and injure or kill me with a rogue scale or bone.
I wonder if fish paste shaped as fish would be seen the same way?
(probably not)

I used to go crazy about fish heads. Eating them I mean seafood is mostly what I grew up eating the most for a while. We used to fight over the fish head and eyes.
That's when way before I stop eating meat.

I live in the states now and some places still do cooking the old fashion way. You hunt your food or get dinner from the back yard. It seems that a few don't wonder about where some of the food may come from. When I was younger and now I hear stories of living on the smaller islands. That most would catch birds or chickens, skin it and cook it. Also catch fish from the ocean clean and it right there.

Or grow their own veggies or fruits nothing with too much chemicals in it. We rarely ate fast food, now in the states for years my diet is bad plus the added weight gain.

I miss that simple food lifestyle, but gm foods are on the rise and it's a little sad. On topic that fake pig mold? looks interesting wouldn't want that lol.

Hmm, maybe it's an Asian thing. Because animal shaped foods aren't unusual, i.e that cake shaped like a dog in the local HK bakery? Although I have to admit, that did freak me out since I had a pet guinea pig when I was younger.

I guess I'm not too fazed because generally during the one month celebrations (celebrating the child's one month) we have a suckling pig and in soups fish heads and all.

Hi There

I think it looks great, where can I buy one?

I have no problem with it at all, I believe that if you're going to eat something you should know WHAT IT IS and be okay with that. Which is why I force myself to clean my own crabs, even though their lungs and innards are extremely disgusting, lol. I may not like to actually EAT some of the parts that other people do enjoy, but I don't mind if they're on the table.

Pretending that the food we eat wasn't alive previously, or that it didn't have a face, is absolutely ridiculous. And this seems to take on new levels of absurdity in the US.

If you don't know where your food comes from, and you can't handle thinking that it used to be alive, maybe you should be a vegan. There's nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong with being an omnivore while pretending you're not eating animals that were alive not too long ago.

Having said that, the paté pig was hilariously disturbing, but those slices sure looked delicious! :D

I have a difficult time eating cartoons in food. So, yes, faces are a problem, even if they are just representations of faces. If it's a face you know, why would you want to eat it?

There's nothing wrong with killing and eating something and even being able to identify the animal, there's just something about seeing a face.

I'd eat the sliced faux guinea pig, I'd just prefer it not have a face. I know where it came from and what it is and that something had to die for it, I just don't want to see it's face.

Ugh... I can't eat food when it has a face. I'm always thinking that it's looking at me! (Even if it is just a pate) It's just creepy.

Yup. I would definitely be a vegetarian if I had to kill my own animals or if everything came with its face still attached. I can't even eat fish with it's head on. XD *fail*

I am so phobic about food with faces that I can't even eat animal-shaped chocolates. (Oddly enough, I am still an omnivore.)

I actually like eating things with faces. Like suckling pig, whole grilled ram etc. And fish, of course. I don't like the way modern food processing removes you from the object you eat. I also, for myself, have decided that I can only justify eating meat if I admit that my food once was a living creature. If I couldn't look that creature in the eyes, then I wouldn't have the right to eat it.

I grew up in a developing country (and a Chinese family) so I'm very much aware of where my meat, seafood and vegetables come from but the lopsided face in the picture gave me a little bit of the creeps.
I'm used to my fish having heads, enjoyed roast suckling pigs once in a while and have seen a chicken being slaughtered and yet I find that pate creepy if I stare too long!
My best friend on the other hand, grew up in a city and once nearly screamed down a Japanese restaurant because she ordered the grilled prawns and she had never seen a whole prawn still in its shell in her entire 21 years. She apparently thought it looked like a cockroach (I thought that was an unfair comparison) and promptly lost all appetite.

Really annoying. I don't find the fun part of being reminded of the animal, unless the manufacturer wanna make everybody a vegetarian.

Oh dear. Just like you, I would probably be haunted by that "face." I used to be immune to such, coming from a country where whole roasted pig is served on the table (with the head of course!) A change in mind set now makes me squirmish if I have to look in the eyes of what I am about to eat. Good thing fruits and veggies don't have eyes lol!

In the wrapper, that thing mostly reminds me of a giant, glazed guinea-pig-shaped donut. Maybe it's because I took chemistry and physics, rather than biology, in school and so never had the chance to dissect a fetal pig or anything of that nature. But I find the face to be scary, not because I can't stand eating things with faces, but because it looks as if it's melting. So yeah, donut guinea pig after a terrible nuclear accident :P

Sliced up, however, it looks pretty tasty!

[It's cute but definitely not something I'd eat. Coming from a large family of hunters I understand the food we eat once lived and frolicked but also as apex predators we need the protein. [which totally explains why I never understood Bambi :)] My problem is that it looks like a little piglet and, just like the little fish you throw back in the water because they're too small, I can't feel comfortable eating a baby animal because I feel it's a waste to eat a food-animal before it has grown to its full size. So, to the manufacturers of this creepy little thing: Bad Shaping!

If whatever meat I receive has an actual face, I will likely still eat it. Every time I eat, I take a moment to understand what I'm eating, and be thankful as well as respectful. This physical dimension is all about life and death, there's no escaping that.

Having my food appear to look back at me won't make me upset, and I am more likely eat other parts (such as the eyes, cheeks, etc) if it is edible and healthy. I don't like to waste food.

Only thing is, I normally can't kill the food I eat. If I was expected to kill something that tried to resist, and I didn't require it to survive, I'd likely let it go and walk away. If I was stranded somewhere isolated and I needed to kill something to live, I'd probably reconsider. But you can bet I'd be foraging through dried roots, bark or anything somewhat edible first.

That aside, I am fine with eating or preparing foods with fake artistic/creative faces. When I prepare something this way, it means I take more time to prepare it (to understand the time and effort involved at all ends), that I'm not just eating a pile of mush or 'stuff', and to properly reflect on the sacrifices made while I make/eat it - a life given so that I may continue to survive and thrive on this world.

Guinea pig is really quite tasty, like all dark meat chicken. I make rabbit at least a couple times a month, but I will say that it freaks me out to have to deal with the rabbit head. I live in Rome, and we get rabbit whole or the whole rabbit in pieces (just ask the butcher to cut it if you don't know how to do it yourself or don't have knives) and alllways with the head. Gah. I don't know a single recipe that calls for it. Ditto with guinea pig head...they serve cuy to tourists in Cusco whole mostly for the shock value. We always ate it in pieces, like chicken. It isn't that I care that rabbit and cuy were cute and fuzzy and whatever, it is that the little teeth really freak me out.
All that said, I think the lil cochon is kind of twisted and hilarious, but a normal shaped pate would be more elegant...I probably wouldn't buy the piglet shaped one, but I would for sure eat it!