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.
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