Roast suckling pig (‘gournopoula’) is one of the most characteristic specialities of Messinia. The beloved traditional piglet turned on the spit has succulently sweet flesh and irresistibly crunchy crackling.
You find it all over Messinia, less so in the rest of the Peloponese, in tavernas but also roadside grills. This trademark dish dates from the Ottoman occupation (15th c-1821) because then pigs were not in danger of being stolen or gobbled up by the conquerors, like every other slaughtered farm animal, because the Turks, being Muslims, were forbidden to eat pork.
The procedure for cooking a whole pig is very simple. Ask the butcher for an animal about 50-55 kilos, have him stick it on the spit for you, and sprinkle some salt and a handful of oregano into its belly. Then sew up the belly and around midnight place the spit on the rotisserie with hot coals below it and to the sides and roast it slowly for 9-10 hours.
When it’s ready, the piglet will have lost half its weight, but it will be as ‘sweet as a piece of loukoumi’! (or Turkish delight.)