Last December I was invited to Kozjansko to photograph Furež. More widely known as Koline, this is a pig slaughter day, a traditional event that is becoming rare in Slovenia. I have been to koline before. However, this time I had a unique opportunity to photograph it in a very authentic way. Read on for full story and photos.
Furež or Koline?
Koline or Furež is a Slovenian tradition that takes place during winter months. It is a pig slaughter day, during which families and neighbors gather to butcher a pig and process it into various meat products. Koline is a social event that involves cooperation and sharing, as well as the preservation of culinary and cultural traditions.
The pig is usually slaughtered early in the morning, and the whole process may take a day or all weekend. After the pig is slaughtered, it is cleaned and then butchered. Different parts of the pig are used to make various traditional Slovenian foods. Krvavice (blood sausages), pečenice (pork sausages), salami, šunka (ham), ocvirki (cracklings) to name a few.
Most of Slovenia know this event as Koline. Only a small part of the country at Kozjansko region calls it Furež. I don’t know the origin of the two words but essentially they mean the same.
The importance of Furež / Koline
Furež is deeply rooted in the country’s culture and serves various purposes. The practice highlights the importance of nose-to-tail eating, utilizing the whole pig. This minimizes waste and demonstrates respect for the animal. Historically, koline played a crucial role in food preservation. Smoked, cured, or fat-stored meats could last throughout the colder months before modern refrigeration.
Koline is not only a culinary tradition but also an important social event that brings people together to work, share, and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
The Photo Story
I arrived at Kozjansko early in the morning. It was a cold winter morning with occasional snowflakes falling from the low clouds. When I arrived to the farmhouse, everyone was already there, socialising. Amadeja introduced me to her family and others. We shook hands, drank coffee and tea and went straight to work. Everybody knew what to do and while they were preparing equipment at the yard, I photographed around the farmhouse.
There were two pigs slaughtered on this weekend. It was hard work for everyone. Even I got my assignment – cutting fat into small pieces for salamis. Men were mostly working outside, cutting and sorting the meat while women were inside, cooking and taking care of logistics. Amadeja and I were photographing the whole event throughout the day. Enough words, the photos tell the whole story much better.
Attending furež was a memorable experience. To be part of such and authentic, traditional event where the family accepted me as their own is priceless. Not because this allowed me to photograph as an insider but mainly because the genuine hospitality of the family and an opportunity to witness the event in its traditional way. Nowadays most people take the animal to the slaughterhouse and only process meat at home. Here, furež is still the real thing, it’s about life and death as it is. I believe that every meat eating person should experience in person where their steak or chicken wings really come from!