Spain / Spanish food / travel

The Most Horrifying Way to Eat Cochinillo (a.k.a. Whole Baby Pig)

One of the weirdest Spanish foods I’ve come across is cochinillo –  roast suckling pig that you eat entirely

I first came across this culinary delight when I was traveling around Castilla y León, where my tour guides encouraged me to try the “milky pig.” I love trying local specialities, but when I saw what it looked like, I just couldn’t.

Here’s what cochinillo looks like, for reference.

Photo Credit: Ela Derezo

So how do you eat cochinillo? Well, it can actually be pretty horrifying!

Check out this video I came across of food critic Andrew Zimmern tucking into cochinillo in Madrid. Yep, baby pig face and all. Skip to 3:30 to see the whole process.

Urgh, I can’t say this does much to convince me to try it! I think I’ll stick to veggies for my dinner tonight…

Has anyone tasted cochinillo? What does it taste like?



29 thoughts on “The Most Horrifying Way to Eat Cochinillo (a.k.a. Whole Baby Pig)

  1. Um, yes, but not like that. I’ve had it in Segovia, actually, where it’s the specialty, if I remember correctly. I hate the term “milky pig”! That is not a great translation.

    • Haha, what a relief! I might try it someday then…does it taste good?

      I think it’s the speciality in Segovia too (though I’m by no means an expert on that area). I couldn’t believe the tour guides kept calling it a ‘milky pig’. They did the talk in Spanish, then translated it word-for-word into English, hence the um, interesting results.

      • Well, yes, it does. Do you like pork? Then it tastes good. Very tender. Nevertheless, I ate the non-extreme version, at least according to Zimmerman

        Go to Segovia, go to a restaurant offering cochinillo, and eat up! That’s the best way to enjoy it.

  2. It looks good to me! Apart from the whole munching the eyes and tongue was a bit freaky.

    It all depends on what you grew up with. I know people who get freaked out with fish eyes or don’t know how to eat fish or chicken off the bone, which are all perfectly normal for me.

    • Yeah, it definitely depends what you grew up with. The face thing freaks me out – I don’t think I could do that. It’s the same deal with fish eyes.

      But I’m sure it tastes delicious, everyone I know who’s tasted it liked it a lot.

  3. It’s sad when you read this amazing post with mouth watering food from Spain, and then you realise that in a few minutes you will be eating McDonalds. Thanks a lot Jessica. lol Keep up the good posts. 🙂

  4. There is a restaurant in Madrid that is famous for serving cochinillo. It is called El Botin. I have never been nor have I ever tried cochinillo. I don’t know if I could stomach eating it. But never say never!

  5. I used to work at a German restaurant when I lived in NYC and we had a dish called Roast Suckling Pig, served in pieces, minus the “extreme” parts, which is more or less the same thing. Never had the “milky pig” here in Spain. As the others have said it’s quite tender and tasty. The problem is when you work in the restaurant and see the little piggy brought into the kitchen first thing in the morning. Reminded me of when we had to dissect fetal pigs in Anatomy class.

  6. oh boy, you already have a new post which reminded me that I intended to comment here! Andrew Zimmern could be my neighbor! he lives about 20 minutes away 😉 BUT, yes, I agree. That video is disturbing. I’m not too anxious to have this Spanish delicacy either. Ewie.

    • Ooh haha I bet he does interesting dinner parties…

      But yeah, I find it very hard to eat anything that still has its face. So cochinillo may have to wait, no matter how delicious it is.

    • I think you misunderstood my point. I’m referring to the way that this particular food critic eats the dish. He eats it so enthusiastically that he gets pieces of bone stuck in his face to the point that he bleeds.

      Having said that, I do find cochinillo a strange food. But I’m sure I eat many things that you think are strange, unusual, or even gross. It’s just what somebody’s used to, and sometimes we’re used to very different things. That’s part of the fun of traveling and seeing what other people eat!

      And yes, I do know what hamburgers and sausages are made out of. 🙂

  7. I’m on my way to Segovia right now (convinced by some friends) for the express purpose of concinillo. Nice to know there’s another 20-something expat as creeped out by the process as I am…

    • Yesss, it’s a really bizarre food if you’re not used to it! Luckily, I’m pretty sure it’s not normal to eat it like this food critic does. Let me know what it tastes like, I’m so curious!

  8. Suckling pig (one which is not yet weaned off its mother’s milk roasted slowly and the skin turned to crackling is absolutely delicious. Milder than roast pork, tender (to show how tender they cut it with the edge of a plate at the table) the fat to a great extent cooked off, it is delicious. I have never ever seen the eyes eaten, but my wife’s father would have done along with the brains.

    If you eat meat, this is a treat. All over Castilla it is a typical dish for a festivity and is ususally cooked in a wood-fired oven

    • I’m sure it is delicious! It’s just quite an unusual food for me, because I’m not used to eating entire animals. But, perhaps next time I’m in Castilla I’ll have to try a bit.

  9. I just had this dish in a great restaurant in Puerto Rico where cochinillio is a Christmas holiday specialty like turkey or prime rib in the states. It was crispy roast suckling pig and it was phenomenal. It was an upscale restaurant called 1919 in Condado, San Juan and it was one of the tastiest pieces of pork I have ever eaten. They did not serve the entire animal but if they had I would have eaten it.

    Snout to tail eating is making a big comeback and to me is the only way to truly honor an animal killed for my meal. Eating the prime cuts and wasting the rest is so very American.

  10. It is definitely a delicacy and now you can find it in a few restaurants in South Florida like Casa Juancho, Los Gallegos, Delicias de España and others in Miami, you may order the whole Suckling Pig or just one piece, as the entire pig may serve 4 or 5 depending on the size. I come from a farm and all the meat we used to eat when I was little we used to slaughter the animal ourselves. All the meat and fish we eat comes from live animals.

    • I heard it’s a Latin American dish as well (though I forgot from which country) and present in Latino communities in the US. I also heard it’s very good!

      It’s just what you’re used to, and I’m not used to eating animals like this. But the video is really grossed me out – the guy chomps down on piece of cute baby pig and gets its bones wedged into his face. That’s didn’t help to convince me to try this unusual food anytime soon!

  11. If it is a Latin American dish, well guess where they got it from… anyhow, it’s delicious, but I’ve never seen anyone show me it like this before it was prepared & cooked. However, every meat dish has its origins similar to this. Whether we like it or not, animals are killed & then prepared for us to consume. I don’t mean to sound offensive or heartless (believe me, I’ve very sensitive).
    Btw, in Italy cochinillo is known as porchetta. And suckling pig has been present for centuries in many European countries of Latin origin.
    Too bad you were thrown off by its presentation beforehand, believe me you are missing a wonderful culinary experience.
    Can vouch for it as I’m from Asturias, Spain with some Italian family as well.

    • Haha yes, it’s not heartless or offensive – that’s just the reality. I was shocked by the presentation, and I’m sure it’s delicious. Actually, it’s a shame the video has been taken down, because that really threw me off (the guy is pretty gross when he eats an already shocking food for me).

      But perhaps, given some time to adjust, I might try it someday. Although I have to say I’m still a little squeamish when I get a whole fish served with the head! It’s silly, but growing up in the U.S. I never ate meat or fish served that way so it’s really strange for me.

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