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The Pig Party
A year ago December I was at our local Winn Dixie store. Above the main entrance hung a banner which declared “Whole pigs $1.98 a pound”.
I thought to myself “Imagine that! $1.98 a pound. That’s a bargain!” But I let the moment pass and went along my way.
A week later I was back at Winn Dixie and I saw a new banner: “Whole pigs $.98 a pound“. They must not have been in big demand.
I thought to myself, “That is a bargain! $.98 a pound. It would be fun to get one of these and have a pig roast, Make it a big party. Hot damn, let’s do it.”
So I sauntered into the meat department and found the butcher. I said,
“This here whole pig thing . . . I think I want one.”
“Ah yep, we got one left back in the freezer. It’s about 150 pounds”
“One Hundred Fifty pounds! Wow, I don’t need a pig that big. What size do they come?”
“Well, about the smallest is 45 pounds.”
“Well now, that’s better. I can handle 45 pounds. Give me one of those 45 pound pigs.”
“Gotta order it. Be here next Wednesday. OK?”
And I went on my way. The following Wednesday I returned. Went to the meat department and found the butcher. It was a different fellow than the one with whom I had placed the order. I said,
“Last week I ordered a 45 pound whole pig and I was told it would be here today.”
“I’ll go look in the freezer. I think I saw it in there”
He left and in a short while returned with a long rectangular box, about five feet long by two feet wide, which resembled a coffin. In it, pasty white, lay stretched out, this young whole pig. Reminded me of the nude photo of Marilyn Monroe.
I wrestled the package into the van and headed home. As I drove I thought to myself “What am I going to do with this pig? It won’t fit in the refrigerator. I never thought it would be so long.”
We do have a small freezer in the garage but I wasn’t certain it would fit there either and since it was close to the holidays there was stuff in the freezer. What a problem!
As it turned out, by unloading the freezer, I was able to get our pig into it, diagonally, angled bottom to top, by bending him a little. Then I repacked around our little fellow the stuff I had removed . I’m not certain Jeanette was pleased with my little project at this point.
Our friend resided in the freezer for a couple of months. December and January are full of activity in south Florida so there was no sense in having an additional party at that time. But by the first week in February I was ready.
Made a list and sent out the invitations.
And then I got to thinking,
“How am I going to cook this guy? It won’t fit in my oven and it won’t fit in my grill or my Weber. It’s a problem! I could dig a pit and cook it over coals. But not in my yard with Jeanette’s careful garden. Maybe a neighbor’s yard? Someone with a crappy yard in which a big pit wouldn’t matter. Hmmm!”
No one came to mind. This was a problem. The RSVP’s were coming in. Everyone wanted to go to the Pig Roast.
So I got on the phone with a local friend who is big into bar-b-que. I mean this fellow has a mobile smoker-grill that is the size of a Winnebago and he goes all over the southeast cook’n and grill’n. After I explained my dilemma he suggested I get a Caja China. This is a large wooden box in which the pig is placed to roast. The lid to the box is metal and charcoal is piled atop the lid and the pig roasts from the heat above.
Finally . . . a doable solution.
However, as I went through the process in my mind, the setting up the Caja China on saw horses, the piling heaps of charcoal on the lid and roasting the pig for 6 to 8 hours, the lifting the red-hot lid and the piles of coals off the box and dumping them into our hedge or some other planted area, the extraction of the pig from the box and the plating of the pig for our guests, as I went through this in my mind I began to think it might not be as much fun as I had first envisioned. Hmmm!
About this time I went to a meeting of The Gentlemen of the Garden, a men’s group to which I belong. This meeting was held at the home of one of the members and the food being served was Roasted Whole Pig! The host had hired a local Cuban immigrant to prepare the meal: pig, black beans and rice, plantains, the whole deal. Just terrific!
So there you go. I know your guessed it. I hired the same fellow. Gave him my pig and let him do the rest. And the meal was wonderful. Everyone seemed to have a great time. And when all was said and done, my $.98 a pound pig only cost about $900.
More to come
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