An Open Letter to Pigs

Dear Pigs,

By the way, may I call you that? Pig? It’s meant with the utmost respect, and after all, it is your name. Believe me. I’ve never used your name in vain when referring to perverts or sleazeballs. I don’t know who started that. Uncool. Nor have I ever said, “go clean up, you filthy pig!” to either of my kids or my husband. Even that time when they were so foul I wouldn’t let them in the house without hosing off in the backyard first. I’ve read that elephants and rhinos are much dirtier than pigs, but the dirtiest of all, obviously, is the dung beetle. Just so you know, whenever possible I do correct people by saying, “go clean up, you filthy dung beetle!”

Okay, that’s not why I’m writing you. I need to talk to you about the state of pigs. I’ve read the news and it’s not good. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, pick up a paper. We’re in the belly of a pork shortage. Nobody’s bringing home the bacon these days. Even Major League Eating has suspended their bacon eating contest. (Side note: the writer of this letter does not endorse the brutish public display demonstrated at MLE events and remains unbiased regarding this vulgar competition.) But that’s the least of your problems.

You’re becoming a rare breed. And not in a way that gives you bragging rights in the barn. Farmers can’t afford to raise you anymore. You’re too rich for the roost. They’re downsizing pigs, buddy. They’re blowin’ your house down, man!

Thankfully for you, nobody knows better than I about raising expensive livestock. And I’m here to help you.

Let’s isolate the problem. You only eat two things. Corn and soy. Right now they’re too darn expensive. Let’s examine the facts. Pigs are natural scavengers.  Meaning you’ll eat any ol’ crap. In fact, I heard pigs will even eat crap. (Just saying.) So what’s with the diva demands? Hanging with Nicki Minaj much? Well, lucky for you no one knows about finicky, stubborn, picky-eater-livestock better than I do. I mean, who can subsist on just mac and cheese? Everyday?!? I don’t think so. Not anymore. Nope. Not when there’s Jamie Oliver’s crispy-skinned chicken thighs with heirloom tomatoes and fresh oregano to be had. And Ina Garten’s beef stew, with aromas that make you weak in the knees. No. Not anymore kiddies. I won’t be shamed by other mothers’ stories about how their kids eat avocados…in their salads!! No more mac and cheese! I can’t! I won’t!

Whoa… what just happened? Where was I? - sorry pigs.

Let’s set up a plan. First thing, mix it up. Try new stuff. If you’re apprehensive about this, experiment with the “just one bite” rule. This encourages the exploration of new flavors. You’ll never know you like something unless you try it! Okay, if that one bite makes you want to puke, pinch your nose and shut your eyes and try again with a massive gulp of milk. If that didn’t do it either, don’t be discouraged. There’s always the “try it 3 times” rule. Go back to this food on three different occasions. You may gag the first time you eat Brussels sprouts, but by the third meal, if you’re not pelting them across the barn at the cows, you just might tolerate them.  If all else fails, proceed to the “deep fry it” or “cover it with melted cheese” rule. Both work like a charm.

What I’m proposing, at times, will be difficult. Stay strong. And don’t, like some of your kind, turn to the bottle. Pigs can become alcoholics. Did you know that? I don’t mean to bring you down; you can read about that here. Seek out smart pigs and form a support group. I heard that one pig farmer was so desperate to keep his pigs alive he fed them candy. And they ate it! (Okay, I never told you about the “one M&M for every Brussels sprout” rule. Guilty as charged.) Anyway, those are the kinds of pigs you need to surround yourself with. The resilient ones. Remember, survival of the fittest. We want you around. Don’t be pig-headed.

Fondly,

Roast Pork Loin with Garlic & Rosemary Lover

Chef Admits to Cooking his Wife

I did not make that up. I could have−as my fiction readers would attest− but not this time. That headline came from the Huffington Post.

For me, discovering that someone could cook another human being was hard enough to stomach, but finding this story in the Food Brief nearly caused me to lose my lunch. That’s the section of the Huffington Post which features food news.  It was sandwiched between stories on Five Guys being voted the best burger in the country, and Ben & Jerry’s announcing its new ice cream flavor. Nauseating. (In case you’re wondering, the article did not suggest a wine pairing and not surprisingly, it did not receive a starred review.)

David Viens, the chef and owner of a Los Angeles based restaurant, told police in a taped interview, that he “slow-cooked” his wife.  Did we need to know his technique?  What−as opposed to braising or roasting? I must admit when I read that he slow-cooked her, for a sliver of a second I thought about herbs. It was a knee-jerk reaction. And if I (a novice home cook) was thinking spices and herbs, I’m betting he must have.  Cooking was his bread and butter, and let’s face it, everyone in the food world knows that any chef worth his salt never under-seasons.

I don’t need to tell you this story is ripe for a screenplay. If someone isn’t writing one this very moment, it’s a real pity. I know. We’ve already got Sweeney Todd.  But that was baking, this is stewing; it’s a whole different enchilada.

The next inconceivable tidbit is that David Viens has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife. He told the police she was already dead when he put her in a 55 gallon pot to boil. He claims she was stealing money from their restaurant to support her drug habit, and one night, after a cocaine-induced argument, he bound her arms and legs, and taped her mouth shut to dissuade her from driving or doing more drugs. Then he went to sleep. By the time he awoke, she was dead.

When Chef Viens discovered he was a suspect in the killing, he took an 80 foot plunge off a cliff in a half-baked attempt to kill himself.  He survived the fall but remained in critical condition for days.  After coming out of a brief coma, Viens spilled the beans to police.

Who’s in hot water now?

Gut Feeling

The strangest thing happened to me today while I was outside “exercising.” On the days I don’t play tennis (that sounds like I play a lot!) I “exercise” by walking. Okay, carbo-loading is not exactly necessary for one of these walks, but at least it’s something.

If I’m going to be completely honest with you, it had been some time since my last “workout.” However, as I was out there hustling butt, I felt something I’ve never felt before. Exhilarated? No. I wish. I know some people get a high from exercising. I think if I were ever gonna feel that way I’d have to get high beforehand. Anyway, it wasn’t endorphins. No, what I was feeling was in my gut. Actually, it was my gut. And it was jostling to and fro.

This was a new sensation for me.  I’ve never felt my stomach jostle before.  In fact, I’ve never used the word jostle before.  This fleshy appendage lapped against itself, like the waves of a stormy sea smacking against the surface of the ocean. It made a sound, thwap−the thought of which still makes me cringe. Even the sides of my waist were gyrating like those massive brushes at the car wash. I promised myself to get back to my desk as soon as possible.  It would be better there.  I always look fantastic sitting at my desk.  And by that time, hopefully, all movement would have ceased.

I did a 180 and headed for home. How could I stand a chance at feeling high now?

With a burst of energy, the likes of which I’ve rarely experienced, I ran through my front door and straight to the hall closet with the full length mirror. I took a long look at myself. Front view. Side view. I had the silhouette of Saturn. How did I not see this coming?  Or going. This was a blow below the belt, if there ever was one.

I had to think fast and shift into problem-solving mode.  Could others have already noticed?  If not, there was no time to waist. Oh gosh, waste. Wasn’t there some kind of hologram or optical illusion that I could utilize until I could properly dispense with this thing?  Perhaps I could create a garment with a color-block hourglass design, duping passersby into seeing a slim waist mirage. Yes, indeed!  I don’t think anyone has done that before.  Sorry Donna Karan−but shoulders, shoulders, shoulders−really?

I ran to the computer to start typing a business plan and although I should’ve been elated for being so dang genius, my mood quickly deflated as I caught a glimpse of my stomach. My God, it was on my radar without having to lower my head! My belly, now stationary, rippled over itself like ribbon candy.  My thighs looked like two water balloons−spreading out and challenging the tenacity of their latex.

A sobering kind of sad seeped through my ampleness.  It was a deep, profound sad, one that I knew would not be fleeting. I’ve felt this kind of thing before.  It was the kind of sad that only a warm dark chocolate lava cake with a dollop of whipped cream could nudge. Would it erase the sad? Of course not, but it would be a start. And as I thought about the lava cake the strangest thing happened to me.  I can’t be sure of this, but it felt very much like endorphins.

How Do You Not Forget People You’ve Never Met

 

This year, I allowed myself not to watch the Twin Towers come down. It was the first year since 2001 that I didn’t watch the reruns of that horrific morning. In years past, if I caught a glimpse of it on tv while passing through my family room or flipping through the channels, I’d sit down and watch it to the end. Every terrifying minute. The fiery explosions, the plummets of dark ash and smoke, the strong, powerful buildings obliterated with deep gashes and massive chunks cut from their sides. I promised myself to never forget the victims. It was the only way I knew how to share their feelings of terror and panic.  It was the only way I knew how to share their loved ones’ feelings of anger and devastation and loss. I didn’t believe I should get away scot-free. It wasn’t fair. So many lives were turned upside down and inside out that day. I didn’t want them to be alone. I knew that the “life goes on” adage would happen too quickly and that could potentially minimize the loss. So I watched the footage again and again and again, each time it would cut me down and thrash against what I knew to be peaceful reality. It didn’t matter if I was watching in September 2001, 2005 or 2010. It would bring me to my knees. I would cry with such agony sometimes it seemed impossible to move on.  How do you just move on to the small routines of life when something of such magnitude has happened?

It didn’t make a difference if I closed my eyes and listened to the tv commentary.  For me it was equally devastating to hear the eerie calm of the spokespeople describing a horror scene as it played out in real time.  I remember thinking how unbelievable it was that they could speak with the utmost control, and devoid of emotion, “And now another plane has crashed into the second building,” as if they were watching a movie. Last September I saw a news clip I’d never seen before, in which an on-camera spokesperson told an off-camera spokesperson who was reporting from the street the incredibly daunting scenes happening before his eyes, that he was going to be put on hold because the broadcast could not become hysterical.

I’m not saying that engaging myself to feel the pain of that catastrophe, in an effort to empathize, is the right thing to do.  But I do believe that forced desensitization is far worse.  As I write this piece I feel the pull.  I watch the YouTube videos, not surprised that the raw tragic emotion doesn’t feel eleven years old.