C-2
Oreilles de crisse and Other Delicacies: Raising Pigs for Food in the Franco-American Literature of New England
Mary Rice-DeFosse
Bates College, Lewiston, USA

Abstract

The marquis de la Roche de Mesgouez is credited with bringing the domestic pig to Canada in his failed attempt to establish a colony on Sable Island in the late sixteenth century.  Today, Canada is one of the world’s the top producers of pork, with the province of Quebec the most important pork-producing region in the country. French-Candian cuisine features a number of dishes based on pork products, from roasts, chops, bacon, and lard to cretons, pattes de cochon, and oreilles de crisse and other delicacies. It is no wonder, then, that raising pigs for consumption is also a recurrent motif in literature of the twentieth century written by Franco-American authors of New England, whose roots lie in French-Canada. Camille Lessard in Canuck, Grace Metalious in The Tight White Collar, Fran Pelletier in Big Pine and Little Spruce, A. Poulin in A Momentary Order, and Rhea Côté Robbins in Down the Plains, all feature the raising and seasonal butchering of pigs.  While this motif often signals a nostalgic return to a traditional past, it also serves as a means to interrogate the meaning of that past for cultural identity.