I’d like to just lie in my bedroom. Not this one. I fantasize about the one that I’ll be in – above some bar where I’ll wash dishes on Main Street in a small town no one has heard of in one of the less interesting United States – right after I run away from it all.

Okay, so when I wrote the story of the suckling pig that I cooked in 1973, many of my kids said they wish they could have been there.  I took this to mean that surprising them with a whole Miami-Cuban Pig Dinner for Thanksgiving would be a terrific idea. Since the Cuban Pig Dinner is traditionally a Christmas feast, I had some trouble finding a place that supplied them.  I asked my friend Keiko Fernandez who is half Japanese and half Cuban and lived in Miami most of her life, if she could find out for me.  She called her uncle.  He gave her a number of the very best place of all.  I called them and they were very nice.  There was a bit of a language problem since I learned French and Latin in High School and my attempts at learning Spanish have been disappointing.   Yes they had Cuban pigs, but the smallest one was 45 pounds.  There were 8 for dinner that night, so I thought a minute. Well,  since we need leftovers for the next day I thought it would work.

“Do you provide any sides?” I asked.

“Sides?” he said.

“Like black beans and rice and plantains?”  I explained.

“Lady, this is a pig farm.  We just have pigs,” he explained.
“Do you have a truck?” he asked.

“I have a station wagon,” I said.

“Lady, do you understand that you are buying a live pig?” he asked.

“You don’t cook the pig?” I asked.

“We could slaughter it for you, if you want,” he said.

“Oh, wait. Stop. I made a mistake. I am very sorry to trouble you,” I said.  “I don’t want to bring a live pig home.  Even if you do the slaughtering, I have no way of cooking a 45 pound pig. Do you know of where they actually cook the pigs for you?”  I asked.

He gave me a few numbers.

I had almost given my Mastercard number to a man who was going to load a live pig onto the back of my station wagon. That was a close call.  If I had actually bought a live pig, it would have to live in the back yard.  We would have to name it.  It would be another pet. I know my Goldens, Brooklyn and Kimchee would love it, but would he love them? Would the pig eat our Koi? I don’t know how Miami Beach authorities take to a live pig in your back yard. I’m pretty sure Victor wouldn’t want a pig for a pet.  They get pretty big.

I finally found a place that made Cuban Pig Feasts.  I asked several times to make sure that the pig would be cooked.  No one can say I don’t learn a lesson. Again, the smallest pig was 45 pounds.  Still a bit on the large size for 8 people. The only problem was that the Cuban place was closed on Thanksgiving, so we would have to have the official Thanksgiving on Wednesday, leftovers on Thursday and the usual sushi feast on Friday.  Everyone would be here on time so the great surprise was on. The kids did not know what the surprise was, but they knew Thanksgiving was moved up a day.

I have to say that Timothy and Victor and I really enjoyed the meal.

Kate, the sushi-vegetarian, was a really good sport and ate mac and cheese and vegetarian black beans and rice from the dinner.  Never a word of complaint.  Sara, Lonny’s girlfriend, likewise, seemed to enjoy the meal without a word.  Then there were my other children.  Ben announced he didn’t like Cuban food.  Lenore made  a variety of faces implying disgust all during the meal and basically did not eat.  Lonny said nothing, but he did make some faces also.  Understand, there was a beautifully cooked, 45 pound pig, rice, and black beans, sweet plantains and Caesar salad.  Lots of it.

Except for Tim and the girls who are not blood relatives, all the kids acted as though the meat that they usually eat comes from a plant, not an animal.  They were all squeamish and offended that the whole body of the pig was on the table: legs, tail, and especially the head.  They wanted pork, not pig.  I learned that day that none of my children would be carnivores if they were forced to kill their own food or, even see the dead body of their food.  I raised, for the most part, weenies.

Then it was Thursday.  Lonny was the first to say it:

“When are you going to start to cook the turkey, Mom?” he asked.

“Lonny, there isn’t going to be a turkey this year, remember?” I answered.

“But. But, it’s Thanksgiving!”  he insisted.  “We have to have turkey and two stuffings and mac and cheese and cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes and Kate’s green bean casserole,” he said.  “And apple pie that is cold.  You know I don’t eat warm fruit,” he added.

“Well, I guess you’re out of luck, because it’s leftovers today,” I answered.

I left the kitchen and saw Lenore.

“Lonny expected to have a full regular Thanksgiving today,” I complained.

“Well, Mom, we all expected to have a full Thanksgiving dinner today.  It’s Thursday,” she said.   “Thanksgiving,” she emphasized.

So next year the kids agreed we would have an almost traditional Thanksgiving, on Thanksgiving day, with the caveat that no one really likes turkey, so we’ll have a huge rib roast instead, two stuffings, mac and cheese, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, Kate’s green bean casserole and cold apple pie.

No more surprises.  Traditions should not be fooled with.



117 Comments »

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2008-12-06 09:46:46

Oh Irene,,, I told you about the half a pig that my neighbors tried to put in my oven. That I turned all shades of green. You could have had half a pig and a turkey.

Melissa

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 10:11:59

Melissa, that’s a good idea, but you can’t buy half a pig. Only a whole one. Mine didn’t turn green. What happened to yours?

Comment by Melissa (Irene’s friend) |Edit This
2008-12-06 11:01:32

Irene, I turned green. I could see you making a pet out of the piggie though. I bet there is no therapy pig at the hospital.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 13:58:14

That would be a good idea! (I wonder who certifies therapy pigs?) I misread your comment, I thought the pig turned green, Melissa.

2009-01-04 14:59:31

A purkey. You could put the turkey inside the pig and make it a holiday surprise.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-05 15:33:43

Christine! You are always full of great ideas! I will think on it and see if anyone in the family would eat it….

Comment by Pamela Norinsky |Edit This
2009-04-02 01:43:58

I am soooo jealous of your family. Next time you make porky pig I wish you’d invite me for dinner. Just give me some advance warning, as I have to purchase plane tickets to Miami.

My family gets very upset when I deviate from the traditional holiday meals, therefore I have stopped being clever and changing up the menus.

Comment by kate |Edit This
2008-12-06 09:47:00

i was afraid the sushi feast would be mentioned in greater detail. phew!

the only thing that bothered me about the pig was when everyone kept talking about eating the hair. i’m not comfortable with that.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 10:13:37

Kate I really was surprised that they left the tufts of bristly hair on it in certain spots. After all, the skin is supposed to be the best part!

Why were you afraid of my talking further about the sushi feast? That part went really well.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 14:07:47

Oh. Wait. Now I remember. You caught Ben’s flu, Kate. That’s all. Then it went through the rest of us. It’s all Ben’s fault.

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Comment by Ben |Edit This
2008-12-06 09:51:40

I don’t think Robert Burns had a whole, roasted pig in mind when he wrote “To a Mouse”.

Still, I think the best response is the next line of the poem:

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!”

Of course since I managed to catch a 24 hour flu half an hour after eating the pig, I am a bit biased against it.

-Ben

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 10:16:33

Plus, Benjamin, you gave the 24 hour flu to everyone else, one at a time! I pity those on the plane with you on the way to Miami!

I sort of feel that both lines are appropriate, since I was so excited about the big surprise and thought everyone would be so happy. It was “nought but grief an’ pain” indeed.

Comment by kate |Edit This
2008-12-06 09:52:33

also, the technical term for me is pescatarian, though sushi-vegetarian is pretty accurate, too. really it should be sushi/fried fish/crustacean-vegetarian.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 10:17:41

Oh, but I thought you didn’t eat cooked fish, only raw. Learn something new every day. Should have known that, though. My bad.

2008-12-06 10:19:56

Can’t… stop… laughing…

But goddamn, that pig head in a bucket totally grossed me out.

I mean, seriously. I almost puked right on my keyboard.

Blech.

2008-12-06 10:21:10

Also. I think Keiko Fernandez is one of the best names I’ve ever heard.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 10:33:26

It’s cute, huh? She’s really beautiful. She trained as a ballerina, but realized you can’t make a living at it so she got her masters in physical therapy. She’s like one of our extra children.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 10:31:54

Kimberly, That was a pig head in Tupperwear! It was a perfect fit after Tim and Victor ate the cheeks, (where most of the bristly hair was.) My kids said they will never eat anything out of that particular Tupperwear again.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 10:36:25

Kimberly, where did I go wrong to produce such weenies? The daughter who is a vegetarian with her two vegetarian children weren’t even there. These were the carnivores. HA! Not when they wee the animal, huh?

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2008-12-06 11:00:12

I’m sure it was delicious, but after seeing that pig head, I can feel your children’s pain.

Going back to an earlier discussion about eating fish eyes – ew.

I’m not normally squeamish, but something about eating heads and anything involved with the head (eyes, brains, etc) really does a number on me.

Tim and Victor are brave for braving the bristly cheeks.

OK – now I have to go make cereal out of double-stuff oreos to cleanse my palate.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 13:48:04

Oh Kimberly, I don’t let anyone eat brains on account of my fear of prions. Everything else is fair game.
Cereal out of double-stuff oreos sounds exceedingly good!

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-12-07 13:07:24

It wasn’t Tupperware. It was the container that you put sugar in our whole lives. It was just a weird change. Know what else, it’s strange to see dishwasher detergent in our childhood apple juice container.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 15:22:06

Tim, those were both different kinds of Tupperware. The one the pig head was in didn’t hold the sugar. Honestly. Sugar comes in 5 pound bags and we needed a bigger one. It looked exactly the same, but it was bigger. That particular kind of Tupperware came in three sizes. (I think the smallest one would hold a little lamb’s head.)

The dishwasher detergent was in the apple juice Tupperware because it is really humid in Florida and if you leave the detergent in the box it turns into a solid box of concrete detergent. Plus, the top was broken off and it wasn’t a reliable liquid container anymore. In addition, we didn’t use apple juice anymore. There are reasons for everything, Tim. You just have to ask!

Comment by Keiko |Edit This
2008-12-06 11:17:17

I love that my full name is in your story. God that pig was huge. I had a feeling that everyone, but Victor, would find the pig revolting. I learned to just deal with big, nasty, hairy dead pigs with mutilated faces since my Cuban family had one at every holiday party since I was 4 years old or maybe even younger.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 13:50:09

Well, Keiko, why didn’t you TELL me that when I was asking you for help in finding it? Lot of help YOU are! You eat fish heads too, don’t you? That’s the Japanese side of you. By rights you should have been my actual daughter.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 08:09:12

Keiko, I was told the BEST Cuban Pig was a Caja China. This is a pig cooked in a box in the ground, or something. I don’t exactly know. When I tried to order one they said the smallest pig they could use for a Caja China was 100 pounds. That seemed too big, even with the leftovers the next day.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-12-07 12:53:08

I say fie on those non-pig-eating jerks! It was damn good! Next year, we ought to get the Caja.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 15:28:43

Tim, we would need so many more people and the actual siblings won’t eat it. Seems like a waste. We should eat the Hawaiian kind before you leave Hawaii. I really liked the pig also. It was the most tender pork I ever tasted! This was the reaction I thought I would get from all the kids, minus the vegetarians. Refer back to the poem by Robert Burns. Lucky we have you, Tim!

Comment by Autumn |Edit This
2008-12-06 14:09:17

Irene, I would have happily eaten your pig. I had three Thanksgivings this year, one at my place with my boyfriend, sisters, brother-in-law and nephews and one close friend. It was my first time cooking a turkey. It was a hit, lucky for me. The second was on Thanksgiving day at my grandmother’s. She didn’t cook, we just had it there so it would seem like old times. My cousin made a huge prime rib roast. It was DELICIOUS. On Saturday we rounded out the weekend with a dinner at my moms. Back to the turkey on that one. No pig though. Not even ham, which we usually have.

I do have one question. Did you have a pan that size to fit the pig on, or did the pig providers provide the pan?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 14:15:40

Autumn you are officially invited to whatever we have next year! Good for you for not being a weenie!

As a matter of fact, we had to put down a $60.00 deposit on that pan, which we were to get back upon returning it. The funny thing is that there was a label on the side of the pan which said $19.99. HA! I’ll bet they make a tidy profit on those people who are too lazy to return the pan.

Three Thanksgivings is a lot of Thankfulness. You must be a very lucky person.

Comment by Autumn |Edit This
2008-12-08 08:37:11

Perhaps if I’m in West Palm visiting my brother I’ll come by with some Lamb. Lamb is a good holiday meal. That’s what we do for Christmas.

Of course, I grew up in a household where if you were given something to eat, you at least tried it. Not to say that it’s the most effective method of creating adventurous eaters. Out of all my siblings I’m probably the least picky when it comes to food. But my father hunted, as did my brothers (one of them still does) so I sort of developed a taste for a lot of different things. Also, for anyone who is curious, frog legs do kind of taste like chicken. From what I remember anyway, that was twenty years ago or so.

$60.00 is a hefty deposit for a piece of metal with sides.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 09:57:05

You know, Autumn, I thought that everyone ate lamb. Then we moved to the Midwest and I made a leg of lamb for company and many of the guests wouldn’t eat it. Too many had been brought up on farms and fallen in love with the little lambs. I myself grew up in Brooklyn where the only wildlife were rats.
My parents were the picky eaters. We essentially had 7 meals that were just repeated every week. the exception was for holidays when we’d have special stuff like leg of lamb or turkey or roast beef.
When I went away to college I was astounded at the variety of foods available. I had never even tasted Chinese food!

Comment by Lenore |Edit This
2008-12-06 14:09:31

hey now. i didn’t want pork as opposed to pig.

i don’t like either.

it tastes funky. funky isn’t my favorite taste.

maybe i don’t like to eat carrion, but i’m curing fucking AIDS. take that.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 14:18:31

You just don’t eat period, you anorexic! First birds taste like feathers, and now pork tastes funky. Admit it. You just don’t like to eat.

Running in an AIDS marathon is really admirable, but it’s not exactly curing AIDS. (I hate to break it to you.)

Comment by Lenore |Edit This
2008-12-06 15:19:24

curing AIDS.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 15:21:09

living in a fantasy.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-12-07 12:54:52

Cure your fucking attitude first.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 15:09:26

I hope you aren’t speaking to me!

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Comment by Kyndra |Edit This
2008-12-06 14:14:21

Never a dull moment at the Zion house-hold!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 14:20:37

You know, Kyndra, I could really USE a dull moment! Seriously. Nothing ever goes the way you plan with a big family. High hopes repeatedly dashed. (Poor, poor, pitiful me!)

Comment by Brad Listi |Edit This
2008-12-06 14:34:34

That picture of the pig head did me in. This is why I have trouble eating meat.

*shivers*

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 15:05:49

Brad, oh Brad, and here I thought you were a manly man. Just another weenie like most of my children. If you are vegetarian, I understand. If you eat meat covered in cellophane, well then, my friend, you are officially a weenie.

Comment by Brad Listi |Edit This
2008-12-08 16:14:53

I’m, like, 90 percent vegetarian. It’s how I prefer to eat, how I usually eat. But if I’m in some foreign country or I’m at someone’s house, I try to be flexible.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 18:37:23

Sheeze, Brad, What? Are you like perfect or something? There is no better answer. The thing is, although you are a great writer, I actually believe you. You are going to be absolutely NO FUN to tease now. Bummer.

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Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-12-06 16:00:36

i dont like being misrepresented
i never have

i did say nothing about the meal during the meal
and i did make faces – i find it hard not to make faces as i have a face

however i had one of the pigs cheeks cut off and put on my plate
i then picked out the meat ate it and gave my brother the skin
after that i ate two piles of more traditional body meat
(one of the piles was given to me by a mystery guest to avoid offending)

i liked it
i ate a meal full of meat beans n rice

my mother writes:

“But. But, it’s Thanksgiving!” he insisted. “We have to have turkey and two stuffings and mac and cheese and cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes and Kate’s green bean casserole,” he said. “And apple pie that is cold. You know I don’t eat warm fruit,” he added.

i have some issues

i dont eat the following things – mac and cheese, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, or Kate’s green bean casserole (by the way – ew – mushroom soup as a base – eeeck)
i also dont like pie either warm, for the reasons stated, or cold

i did however want to have thanksgiving

i like your stories
they are often funny

but they sometimes they should start with:

THE FOLLOWING IS BASED ON A TRUE STORY

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 17:34:32

Lonny, I adore you, but we remember things differently. You have to admit that you were upset at not having a traditional Thanksgiving on Thursday. Maybe Sara should chime in here….

Comment by Lenore |Edit This
2008-12-06 20:08:29

lonny loves coffee pie. loves.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 06:27:58

Lenore, I know. Lonny loves anything that has a coffee flavor. Don’t you, Lonny?

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Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-12-07 12:57:08

I don’t know about you guys, but I could go for some body meat right about now.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 15:10:11

Exactly what kind of body meat, Tim?

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Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-12-06 16:27:38

I’m a vegetarian, Irene. I’m sorry, I feel like I’ve let you down. But on the inside, I’m a carnivore. I have cooked Kangaroo steaks for my family before, and rabbit, and I think squid or some weird thing like that. So I don’t mind meat. I’d be honoured to be presented with a full pig, even though I can’t eat it. I hope I’m not a Weenie.

(I wish I was curing AIDS, too)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 17:38:38

Cayt, You could NEVER be a weenie. If you choose not to eat meat, but cook it for the carnivores in your family, you totally pass the test. There was plenty of vegetarian things to eat, you know. The grinches just focused on the carcass of the pig.

(I wish I were curing AIDS also, but running a marathon, though arduous, will not actually cure AIDS, although the money raised might actually help.)

Comment by Amy |Edit This
2008-12-06 19:27:24

Considering the fact I have eaten roasted pig just like that before I would have no problem eating it again. It is soooo good! Maybe you should have laid a towel over the pigs head so the others wouldn’t realize what they were really eating.

As a kid we raised chickens in our garage (of all places). I know that at some point they disappeared and we did eat chicken during that time. We also ate the neighbors rabbits once. They raised them for 4H and sold them, so they did give them to us. I knew what I was eating and remember it tasting really good!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-06 19:36:53

Amy,
I got baby chicks once for Easter. They grew up to be chickens, (duh,) and we lived in Brooklyn. My parents told me that the chickens went to live with the old sailors at the old sailors home. I totally bought it. I thought they were living a life of leisure on the grass around the old sailors home down by the sea. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case, now that I think about it.

Putting a towel over the pig’s head sees to be cheating. Either you eat meat or you don’t. Even if it’s sliced ham at the deli, there is a head involved there somewhere. Life. Not always pretty.

2008-12-07 06:48:56

Life. Not always pretty.

But very often… delicious!

If God had not intended us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat! )

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 07:04:11

Very well said, Kimberly. I hadn’t thought of that.
(But isn’t that kind of mean of God to set up animals that way? There is a great deal I do not understand.)

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Comment by Lisa |Edit This
2008-12-06 20:29:40

Hi Irene,
I would’ve eaten some of the pig but only to try to impress Tim and Victor. And it would not have worked, so I would’ve eaten pig for nothing.
Bummer,
Lisa

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 06:17:51

Actually neither eating it or not eating it would not have impressed Tim or Victor, Lisa. They don’t notice what anyone else is doing when they are feeding.

2008-12-06 21:28:55

This story was not kosher.

I mean, Jesus wept.

But I giggled, just a little, at the uber-obvious picture of Lenore with her Sexual Deviance book out there.

Was that staged?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 06:21:44

James Michael Blaine,

You are correct. This story is not kosher.

That picture was NOT staged. Her doc project is all about sexual deviance. That is the least offensive book she has. You would shudder to see some of the others. (I didn’t think the title of the book was legible in the photo.)

Our life is real, James Michael Blaine, our life is far from staged.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 07:06:27

Seriously, James Michael Blaine, I just looked back at the picture and I can’t see the title of the book. I even used a magnifying glass. You have the super eyes of an advanced being.

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Comment by jmb |Edit This
2008-12-07 15:57:08

Irene Zion,

One must recall that I also have a Master’s in Psychology with a field specialty in deviance. Deviants always know Deviants, Irene Zion.
Just saying.

Pig heads and Sexual Deviance?

Moses rends his garment, Leviticus in ash.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 17:38:48

James Michael Blaine! You must get in touch with Lenore! That is precisely what her doc project is about. Whoa. This is approaching weird. Moses rends his garment, indeed!

Comment by reno |Edit This
2008-12-07 21:17:43

WAIT!

MOSES?

GARMENT?

SEX?

HUH?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 05:34:52

Reno, It makes perfect sense if you start at the beginning. Really.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-12-07 06:02:36

it has ALWAYS been my rule to not cook/serve any animal that will be looking at my guests or that can be identified by a foot. Incoming zion women were very respectful ( and brave) If all zions frown on turkey thanksgiving is out at the southern W home 2009. how about tofurkey?caw

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 06:25:04

ksw/caw,

That is a very good rule for most people. It just wouldn’t work in our family.

They LIKE turkey, they just prefer ribroast.

The incoming Zion women WERE very respectful. They totally rock.

If you served tofurkey, Victor would bring his own meat.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 06:31:32

Besides! ksw/caw, you actually had a pet pig. If I had had a pet pig, I would not be able to eat it either. Probably wouldn’t be able to stand looking at it, to boot. I forgot your pig. What was his name?

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-12-08 14:46:54

Biff, and as a side he was litter trained and put up his toys much better than 2 of the 3 children. caw

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 18:39:47

AWWW. I would NEVER serve a Cuban pig to you since you had Biff, the litter-trained pig who put his toys away. (How did he put his toys away? I need a visual here.)

Comment by Jack and Laurie |Edit This
2008-12-07 08:32:32

Just another light meal at the Zion’s. Maybe a turkey stuffed with mac and cheese would satisfy everyone.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 08:42:41

Jack and Laurie,

That sounds like a pretty good compromise. I’ll run it by the kids. I think that Kate, ( and Sara and her kids,) vegetarians all, might object to the container holding the vegetarian part.

Comment by Ursula |Edit This
2008-12-07 09:58:11

I am so sorry Saul and I weren’t there to feast with you on that roasted pig. It sounds and looks delicious. An adventuresome idea to serve it whole and true, the head could conceivably have been removed before bringing the crunchy sumptuous meat to table. But you were trying to be true to “Cuban” tradition and I admire you for it.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 15:14:00

But Ursula, you don’t get it! The head is the best part for Cuban Pig aficionados. It’s the cheeks, you see. I am not the one to defend this. I personally like the ribs. Cheeks are so very part of the face, you know?

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2008-12-07 12:01:57

ew.

I’m shocked that someone who raised weenies would roast pigs…

And devastated that rib bones don’t conjure the same revulsion in them as hog legs…

I’m a vegetarian. I can’t even eat fish. When I was a kid I asked my mom what that white hollow tough thing in my steak was, “Its a blood vein” she said.

Which takes me back to…

ew.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 15:16:10

Josie, all vegetarians get a total pass here. It’s the carnivores who don’t like to realize their food comes from an animal that annoy me. (Can you see a field of chicken breasts?)

Comment by Indiana Farmish Girl formerly known as Next Door Neighbor in Illinois|Edit This
2008-12-07 16:24:51

Do you have any leftovers? Could you send me some? We made a too-small turkey for Thanksgiving and barely had any leftovers at all. Roast pig is great. When I was a child in Indiana, we ate my brother’s 4-H pig, named Beulah. I wasn’t going to eat any of her, but then I had a taste, and she was really delicious.

Also, who suggested crumbling Oreos to make cereal? That’s brilliant! Why bother pretending cold cereal has any nutritional value, just get down to ingesting tasty carbs with milk.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-07 17:48:27

Oh, Indiana Farmish Girl formerly known as Next door Neighbor in Illinois,
That fabulous idea about crushing up double stuff Oreos was Josie’s idea. She is known around here as quite the genius.
We have a lot of leftovers. You should come to visit and raid the freezer!

I had a fantastic, perfect, wonderful greyhound named Beulah. Except for her brain tumor. But we had a fabulous two years after she was kicked out of racing because she broke a leg. (But I sense that that is neither here nor there.)

I have never found a turkey that was less than 10 pounds. Did you find a smaller one? Hard to believe your family could need more than a 10 pounder.
Ah, 4-H. The Midwest. I adore everything about it except the cold. I can no longer deal with the cold. We are spending Christmas in Chicago. I am hoping for a warm snap.

2008-12-08 19:41:19

Ahem. That idea was mine, thank you very much.

And the Oreo cereal was fucking delicious.

(Not to discredit Josie’s ever-present genius, but I’m just saying…)

Oreo cereal. Best anti-depressant ever.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-09 07:06:41

Oh Kimberly, I do apologize. Of course this was your idea. (Besides, Josie doesn’t eat meat and I think Oreos have beef fat in them or something.) Obviously I’m an idiot.

YOU, KIMBERLY M. WETHERELL ARE THE VISIONARY WHO INVENTED THE ANTI-DEPRESSANT OREO CEREAL!

You should probably patent it or something, since I think a lot of people are depressed lately and you could really sell it. (Who doesn’t need some change on the side?) I know for a fact that my friend from the Midwest has already had a bowl.

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2008-12-09 08:18:46

Sadly, I think they have made a version of my uber-genius is processed form, but it just ain’t the same.

It’s simple, really.

Take as many double-stuff Oreos (or regular if you prefer more chocolatey goodness) as you can muster and mash them with a meat tenderizer. Or a sledge hammer. Depends on how much aggression you need to release.

Then fill a bowl, preferably one used for popcorn on family movie-watching night with the shattered cookies.

Get cold, skim milk (because you don’t want to overload on calories) and douse the suckers.

Get a big ol’ spoon and dig in!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-09 10:13:50

Kimberly,
I would definitely use a sledge hammer. I like your idea for the size of the bowl. But I don’t believe in skim milk. Whole milk for me. When I was growing up I had my cheerios with half and half. Really.

Comment by Marlene |Edit This
2008-12-07 19:24:53

Irene, usually Cubans cut the whole pig into pieces and place it on the table -except the head. I have never seen a pig head on the table…and for eight people…ummmm…too impressive i would add.
Something you for sure learned is second trials are never good ) No wonder your expression of disappointment when i saw you with Brooklyn after Thanksgiving…what a contrast from last year. Maybe is time for you to relax and let them cater to you, sit back and count the blessing.

Love you and thank you for all do,
Marlene

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 05:40:19

Wait, Marlene, I did it wrong? Seriously, you need to tell me these things. I’m from Brooklyn, what do I know? People told me it was served whole with head. (But, AHA!, None of these people were Cuban! I think I see where I went wrong.) From now on any Cuban questions are directed promptly to you!
I don’t think I can ever expect last year’s treatment again. That was a miracle!

Comment by reno |Edit This
2008-12-07 21:11:38

hot damn. another tale from the zion house.

a friggin’ pig, irene? i mean-really? i love your sense of adventure. nice touch. i would have been surprised. that was one hell of a surprise. see, i guess the disappointment (in your peeps) is that you get your mouth ready for some turkey and all the country fixins’ then you get a…pig. one that once oinked. spread eagle. tail. lips. ears.

(but remember: you’re getting points for being clever, thoughtful, etc)

here’s the deal, zion: i would have ATE the meal. only because my mom did a stellar job raising me. and i like pork. love bacon, like a big fat pork chop every once in a while. but the sight of the lips. the sunken eyes. the tiny hairs poking out of its burned skin.

I WOULD HAVE ATE THE PIG.

but i would be scarred for life. i see you guys were drinking wine. i would have drank all the wine then barreled through the meal. i would have needed the guts.

“I raised, for the most part, weenies.”

oh, lord, irene. too funny. weenies! ha! now listen, irene, you have to take that one back. no children, NOT A ONE, wants to be called a weenie by their mama. no one.

who wants to be a weenie (a pork weenie no less!)

ha!

thanks for the story.

have a good week.

black beany-weenies,
reno

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 05:47:49

Well, Reno, you do have several good points here, but the way I see it, my kids have been repeatedly scarred during their entire lives. What’s another one? They’ve been toughened up. Plus, shouldn’t a group of scarred kids be up for some adventure? (Do you see Lenore’s face when she’s helping to hold the pig up?)
Okay. If you think calling them weenies will scar them again, I’ll take it back. I was in the wrong by assuming too much. None of you are weenies, kids.
Traditions will remain traditions from now on.
(No more surprises? Reno, this is going to be hard!)

Comment by reno |Edit This
2008-12-08 13:00:13

you’re right – what’s another scar?

what was i thinking?

lenore’s face tells me the pig farted right when the pic was snapped.

one last shot at humanity.

one for the gipper.

or the ripper.

something like that.

oink, oink.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 13:13:10

Reno, I just think that sometimes traditional is sort of boring, humdrum, tedious, you know? (Dead things that are cooked don’t fart. The insides are gone where the gas would be. Silly.)

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Comment by Rich Ferguson |Edit This
2008-12-08 07:16:05

Irene:

Sorry to be so late in weighing in here. This was a wonderful piece. It would’ve also been pretty amazing had you brought a live pig home. Would’ve loved to have seen Lenore’s face had that happened. Maybe you could’ve put her on Washington Ave. with the pig and she could’ve offered swine rides–3 minutes for 5 bucks. Or something like that.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 08:32:39

But Rich, first you’d have to teach it to heel and sit and stay, you know. I imagine that finding a collar for the pig would be difficult. They have some seriously big necks. Ben and Tim would do it, but Lenore? I think not.
Can you imagine if I never understood that it was alive? I really was about to give my mastercard number. I would have been expecting dinner and gotten a pet instead. What would I cook at the last minute? They would have been even more horrified, and hungry, too.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 13:16:51

Rich, I keep thinking of the “swine rides.” (Great name, by the bye.)

My friend Marcia, whose had pigs, said that they bite. So I’d need a muzzle. A swine-sized muzzle. Plus, she tells me a saddle would be hard to find because pigs are really slippery. Additionally, there’s nothing there to really hold on to.

All in all, I think it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Great in concept, though.

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Comment by amanda |Edit This
2008-12-08 08:03:33

Totally unrelated: I was home this past weekend and took a photograph of my mother’s kitchen cupboard with the cup or elastic bands hidden behind the drinking glasses. She thought I was insane, until I explained it was because of some lady I’d “met” on the internet who writes stories exposing the intimate details of her family’s life together…and that the cup of elastics and other contents of our cupboard had been a hotly debated topic about a month ago. Now, she just figures I am plain-old mental.

: )

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 08:42:34

Amanda, did you take that opportunity to ask her WHY she always had them there? Surely you did!
You have to e mail me the photo! [email protected] I have to see all that’s up there. Your Mom sounds like a stitch! She thinks YOU are the mental one. HA! She’s pretty excentric herself! You tell her that we all find her very interesting. (And that’s probably who made YOU so interesting!) If I don’t answer right away, don’t worry. I leave Wednesday on a small trip until Sunday.

Comment by amanda |Edit This
2008-12-08 09:00:52

Indeed, I asked about the cupboard in general, and the elastics in particular. Her answer? That’s where your father has always kept them.

My father!!! Who knew?! All along, Mr. Miller has been boss of the rubber bands. The plot thickens.

: )

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 09:07:26

WELL? Amanda, did you go ask your Dad next? I do understand the concept of “because it’s always been there.” I’m very much afraid that I do that myself. You put something down. It stays there. Then it becomes the place to put similar things down. Sort of a clutter theme. I have a serious clutter problem.

Comment by amanda |Edit This
2008-12-08 10:10:41

When she said it was my father, the whole thing became clear as air. He is a fiend for order and routine, and loves a good chore now and then. And by “now and then”, I mean several times per day. Chores chores chores. Loves ‘em.

I catch myself doing Dad Things: the method I employ for wiping the counter, the schedule on which I collect garbage from the various bins around my little apartment, the way I rotate the eggs in the fridge…

I, too, have items with “a place where they belong”: a place for the scissors, for the toothpaste, for the extra keys, for the gin flask. Each item occupies its place and no other. As much as there is a right place, there is a wrong place–the scissors, for instance, never go next to the flower pot. Always in the ceramic jug.

So, once I knew my dad was responsible for the elastics jar, I knew the answer: one day, energetically, they were drawn to that spot in the cupboard like a dowsing rod was directing my father’s hand. And henceforth, they have rested in that spot, despite how inconvenient it might be access a rubber band when you really need one.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 14:27:59

Great detective work, Amanda!

Comment by alex d |Edit This
2008-12-08 08:08:24

irene tell all your kids that when the end of the world comes and we wont have publix anymore stay close to me i’ll kill anything and eat it. ps why didnt you bring me any pig ill eat the head.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 08:44:32

I’m really sorry, Alex. I absolutely should have thought of you with the leftovers. I did give most of them away, but Lord knows, there was plenty to go around.
Good to know that you’ll kill our food for us when the apocalypse comes!

Comment by donald |Edit This
2008-12-08 11:37:06

hmmmmm yummmy!!!! sooooo yummmyyyy!!!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-08 13:44:55

THAT’S what I’m talking about!

Comment by Frank |Edit This
2008-12-08 20:01:41

Irene-

What an absolute hoot!

Victor mentioned this feast while we labored poleaxing palms at Fairchild the other day, even to noting the that the cheeks were good. But in no way did he even come within a nanometer of expressing the joy and delight of all the cast and crew at such a fine repast. Victor, how VERY cheeky of you to NOT dish!

I can see I, Zion (kinda like Asimov, eh? -and how appropriate a name for a whole-HOG feast-mistress!) leading the Zion clan (plural, with a nod to the local culture: Los Zionii?) in belting out a rousing rendition of “Tradition” from Fiddler, as they dance whist hoisting a turkey (or would that be a roast?) AND a green-bean casserole -and NOW a roast piglet as well -high in the air above their heads, semi-Broadway conga-lining it out of the kitchen, thru the dining room, once around the living room, then out to the pool… TRADITION!

Well, ma’am, you got yourself one hell of a NEW tradition: that little piggy that went to market (and at the very last minute sure wished he (she?) stayed home!), accompanied by Great and Wondrous If Only They Were Desired leftovers, sibling mudslinging (well, maybe that one ain’t so new), divergent views of history and/or what happened at the scene of the crime (come to think about it, maybe that one ain’t so new, too), and almost making one heckuva mistake in selecting the live, as opposed to the pre-cooked, version.

Personally? Kinda think maybe the latter would’ve resulted in an even better story… And coming from the Great Mid West Corn and Farm Belt, you should certainly know, surrounded by 4-H’ers up the yin-yang, that folks sure do eat their pets! But you from Brooklyn stating that you didin’t, and that the only wold critters you had were rats, I was expecting a tale of rat stew or some such thing. How disappointing…

But back to the matter of Non-Turkey Day: Therapy Piggy to the rescue! And why wouldn’t y’all like a pig around the place? You certainly had a lot of’em “around” in Sham Pain, n’est-ce pas? Sure, they get big -the females -the sows -get huge. compared to the males, the boars; but nowadays, they grow’em lean, and top out at around 240 or so -not all THAT big. They’re supposedly as smart as dogs, so I suspect that given acceptance Chez Zion by Brooklyn and Kimchee, Pig would fit right in -just don’t let Animal Control know, I guess…

It was an engaging story, and the comments made for Great Spice.

Keep up the great work. Next year…?

BTW, did you know that lamb is apparently the only animal not proscribed by any of the World’s Great Religions or Philosophies (other than veggiematicists)?

-Frank

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-09 07:17:38

Frank, Victor is an amazing person, but a story-teller he is not. He barely speaks, in fact.
I’m afraid that I can’t fight tradition with the kids I have now. (Maybe the ones that marry in will be more accepting. So far Sara, the vegetarian daughter, is married to a carnivore, Tushar, who would have loved the feast, had he been there, for instance.)

When it comes to rat stew, Frank, just read my post about the Amazon:

http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/izion/2008/11/for-a-break-from-freaking-you-out-here-is-a-quick-picture-tour-of-the-amazon-without-genitalia-or-amputations/

Before I’m done everyone will see that NOTHING is sacred.

Comment by Frank |Edit This
2008-12-18 17:01:46

Why, Irene, you should know by now (especially with miscreantly brilliant -or is that brilliantly miscreant?) kids like yours (and Victor’s, I’m sure… …right?) that long before you’re started, let alone DONE, you will have been apocalyptically (sp?) informed that sure as shootin’. nuthinz’ sacred.

Indeed, sacred cow makes the BEST hamburger. Just ask the worthy citizens of South Asia, non?

Read the story, saw the pics of The Rat Stand. Impressive!

BTW, jumped over to the histoire of the stolen Christine. A -Mazin, Gracie!

Heart, butt, balls, dunce… Dunno, but I liked that other big fat butt best!

Dave Barry is indeed tres cool.

KUTGW!

-Frank

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-19 05:53:51

Frank, you got me on “KUTGW”. It’s probably something everyone knows but me.

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Comment by Cecile |Edit This
2008-12-09 13:09:36

I have no doubt that your kids were SLIGHTLY aghast when they knew where and what their next meal would be. You have always been an out of the box person but this is really something. And to think I thought our intro to goose one year was a biggie! I would have loved to be a fly on the wall watching your negotiations purchasing your pig. And no doubt at all that your children STILL wanted a traditional turkey meal for Thanksgiving. I guess you know the best way to keep them coming home.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-09 15:16:37

Cecile, the nicest thing anyone every said to me was that I was an “out of the box person.” Thanks! Now if only my children understood that the extraordinary is special and the mundane is bboorriinngg. (I did luck out on catching on before I got new pet who would grow into the 200 pound range….)
It’s thoroughly exhausting to try to keep these children current. How did I give birth to such STICK-IN-THE- MUDS? It is a mystery to me!

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2008-12-09 20:34:08

Oh my – I’m coming late to the party once again. Great story, Irene. You crack me up.

I became a vegetarian on account of the dead pig I used to pass on the way to the ferry every morning. I think I’ve told you this story… Of course, I never could kick bacon, which never made sense to me. Anyway, my “vegetarianism” lasted only 2 years. But while I may have learned a very important lesson about where my food comes from, I would not do very well if asked to slaughter and butcher a pig. It’s the thought of organ removal. What a project… I watched a man on TV disembowel a camel once. Haunts me, that one. (Ha!)

Anyway, I would have eaten your pig.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-10 03:52:28

Erika Rae, you are mistaken, I have yet to hear about the dead pig you used to pass on the way to the ferry every morning! How long could a dead pig be there? Why was it dead? Why was it left there? Sorry, I have to hear the story. Perhaps you told the story before I came on board here.
I completely understand being a bacon-vegetarian. Bacon is so glorious that it almost counts as dessert. Not in a normal food group at all. Bacon is something you earn for being good. You win bacon for first prize. You get bacon because it’s Sunday. You see where I’m going with this.
There is no way on earth that I could slaughter something, let alone slaughter something and then eat it. uh uh uh. I’m with you there.
(I wish you weren’t so late to the party…you could have been among the few who ate dinner!)

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-12-20 00:26:33

Had squirrel spaghetti for breakfast visiting relatives this Thanksgiving. Not on Thanksgiving. Like the Tuesday or Wednesday. It was excellent. Wish I’d thought to post here more promptly.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-12-20 07:29:43

Adam!
What did squirrel taste like? Since Guinea pig tastes like pork, I’m guessing that its taste is similar. Where is this dish served? This is really interesting. I’d like to taste squirrel, just not the ones from my yard on account of we sort of have a relationship.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-12-20 14:21:44

The meat tasted almost spicy, like sausage, but it had been simmering in sauce. I don’t think it’s necessarily a quality original to the animal. The texture was also nice, also sausage-like. I guess pork probably isn’t a bad comparison.

This was served at the home of my mother’s cousin, his wife and kids. My cousins once removed (one in law) and second cousins. The squirrel(s) did come from their copious yard. I think the report was that addition of squirrel was kind of a lark, given that one had been shot and was handy. I guess they have a sort of relationship, too.

It came coarsely cut. My brother was brave/early and served himself up a piece amounting to like a full rack plus whatever leg(s) happened to be attached.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-12-20 16:58:51

Adam, we were surprised how tiny the bones were on the guinea pigs. Not unlike Cornish game hens, but pork-tasting. Except for the claws. Cornish game hens don’t have the claws of a guinea pig. Many people were put-off by the claws. They didn’t bother me, though. Were the squirrel claws in there?

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Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-12-20 18:30:51

I’ll have to ask Graham. I tried to serve myself only meat; no bones or shot.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-12-21 07:04:28

You know, Adam, you would think there would be a way to find the shot and get rid of it before you cook with teeth breaking pellets. The first time we had meat from a hunter friend, I was not aware of the shot problem. It seemed that every bite had shot in it, sort of like eating a fish with a million bones you can’t see.

Comment by Henning Koch |Edit This
2008-12-20 09:37:53

Dear Irene,

Thanks for this! I would have eaten that pig like a shot! It looked beautiful. I didn’t know it was a Cuban tradition. They have the same thing here, in Sardinia, at weddings and parties, but not as big as yours. I’d say they go for pigs about half the size. The important thing I reckon is that the pigs have been well fed and allowed to roam outside, otherwise the meat smells like pig. Know what I mean?
One thing I’m not so keen on is calf intestines. They’re big on that in Sardinia. I reluctantly ate sheep’s brains recently and was pleasantly surprised. Also roast calf’s heart, finely sliced. Liked that too.
I read once about this guy rowing across the Atlantic. He said he was always so hungry that whenever he caught a fish he instantly ate its eyes and head. I mean, he went for these first because they’re so full of goodness.

Just some thoughts…

All best, Henning

PS. How does one get one’s picture in the little box above each comment? I joined that Gravatar site Brad told us about but nothing happened.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-12-20 13:45:03

Hey, there, Henning Koch!
The one I had in 1973 that I wrote about earlier was much smaller. If you want to see it, it’s here:

http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/izion/2008/10/my-first-two-children-were-scarred-for-life-in-1973/

For some reason you can’t get a smaller one here in Miami. I think the younger, the more tender, although ours was fantastic.
I’ve had beef intestines, but they don’t taste like much. I’ve had beef heart and I thought it kinda tasted like filet mignon. Never had calf heart, though, or intestines.
I’m afraid of brains because of prions. Unlikely, but really scary prospect. Horrible death. Not worth the risk.
The head is the best part of the fish when the Japanese cook it. I said somewhere, I forget where, that Victor tried to eat the eyes, but he could eat all but the lens. The lens was too tough to chew. I sort of got the idea they were watching me, so I didn’t want to eat them.

Henning, I must have fooled with that gravitar thing for a half hour. I really don’t know how it finally worked for me. Brad gives instructions that most people understand, but I think I’m computer challenged. Just keep trying. If I can do it anyone can!