According to Steven Raichlen, author of “The Barbecue! Bible,” apples were used to fatten pigs for autumn harvest celebrations. Putting an apple in the mouth of a roasted/dead pig may represent the life-and-death cycle of pigs; whether living or dead, pigs “consume” apples. The usage of apples, according to Raichlen, is purely ornamental. An apple enhances the appearance of the roasted pig.
The practise of placing an apple in the mouth of a roasted pig dates back at least 800 years. Similar to a Thanksgiving turkey, a roasted pig serves as both food and ornament. A succulent pig decorated with autumn fruits and vegetables sets the tone and atmosphere for a harvest party.
Some farmers assert that feeding pigs apples makes the pork more flavorful. Some traditions place the apple in the pig’s mouth prior to cooking, while others use an ear of corn or a ball of aluminium foil while cooking then replace it with an apple prior to serving. In many nations in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia, roasting pigs is a Christmas ritual. Europeans roast pigs for Christmas, whilst Asians do so for the New Year. It is customary to consume the roasted apple as well.