Film maker Joe York is on fire.
The Mississippi based documentarian has been knocking out compelling short films on food since way back in 2001 but lately he’s really hit his stride.
Speaking on Acadiana, he says: “you can pretty much stand anywhere on the road down there and you’ll meet someone who’ll invite you to come eat a pig.” His latest work, a 13 minute documentary entitled “To Live and Die in Avoyelles Parish” documents the area’s pig roasts such as the cooking of 9,800 pounds of hog at the 37th Annual Cochon de Lait Festival in Mansura Louisiana.
The festival has a long and storied history starting in 1960 and coming to a [temporary] halt in 1972.
This is when the party reached a crescendo
At one point the Cajuns attending the party had gone native and gotten so wild and wooly what with all the drugs, dancing, rampant pork consumption and public sex that the city put a halt to the celebration for almost two decades.
But in 1987 the Cochon de Lait Festival was reborn and continues apace today.
None of this is covered in the York documentary but it does make an interesting aside.
We’re not even a minute into the doc when a rifle shot cracks out and a man’s voice begins issuing commands on what to do with the animal whose fate has just been meted out.
York then takes us on a journey through the parish, talking to Cajuns who love nothing better than to kill a pig, build a fire and invite a few people to help him eat it.
Of particular interest is the middle portion of the film when the cochon de lait experts all weigh in with tips on how to better barbecue your pig.
Bear in mind you’re getting free advice from some Cajun he-bears who’ve been practicing this art their entire lives.
I was taking notes.
Joe York has put to record many interesting subjects on film but this is his best effort yet.
It’s available for viewing here.