Daddy is an excellent cook. He is self taught and can cook almost anything.
I am sure he will tell you the only things he can’t cook, are the things he doesn’t want to eat.
With mama in the hospital a lot when we were younger, he often had to cook and clean to keep us on a regular schedule. It wasn’t easy, but daddy did it. I don’t think I ever heard him complain.
The kind of cooking daddy did in those days was out of necessity, to keep the family going. The kind he would do in the kitchen with a black frying pan, preparing the day to day basics. Daddy tolerated basic cooking, but daddy loved to get outside and cook……cook over an open flame, like a man cooks!
Turn daddy loose on the grill or with his deep-fat fryer and he was in his element. However, if you ever wanted to see a man revert back to his inner-caveman, give daddy a fire pit and a wild hog and you have the makings of an epic battle of man vs. beast.
It would usually happen at least once a year, it didn’t matter if it was an occasion or just a reason to cook, but once a year or so, daddy would cook a wild hog. When I say a wild hog, understand, I mean the WHOLE hog! Weeks of preparation would go into the battle of man vs. hog with the outcome always the same…. man won!
When daddy cooked a hog it was a spectacle. The pit had to be just so, temperature of the coals exact, the hog prepared for cooking with affection, cooking timed to the exact minute, daddy was the king of the fire pit and his audience appreciated his efforts.
As you can imagine, cooking a hog wasn’t just a meal for the family. No, when you cook a hog it is an event, for the masses. I have seen daddy cook a hog in the blazing heat of a 4th of July; on top of Black Rock Mountain with snow falling from the sky and along side a small fishing pond while games of football were played in the fields nearby.
Daddy loves being in a group, his personality is at its best when he is the center of attention and cooking a wild hog over a pit has a way of putting that attention square on the guy in charge…. daddy. He would entertain friends, neighbors and family for hours on end during the cooking process with story after story, each tale growing bigger as the night went on. Oh yes, the night went on, you see, cooking a hog in a pit isn’t a couple of hour process, no, it begins in the late evening of one night and continues until supper time the next night.
Hour after hour, daddy would stand by the pit,turning and basting and rubbing and watching that hog turn to a perfect golden brown. Meat falling from the bones ready for the masses to enjoy.
Daddy always loved those moments when the hog was presented and everyone begin to dive in and enjoy the fruits of his labors. Congratulations were abundant, praises for the chef and slaps on the back, daddy was the center of attention and he loved every minute of it.
Recently, I started thinking about daddy and those hogs once and realised there was an analogy there that sums up daddy’s life. Some parts of the pig roast aren’t a lot of fun, the staying up all night, constant basting and turning and rubbing, it is tiresome work and often lonely. But when the meat is presented and the crowd is enjoying the fruits of that labor the hard work must all seem worthwhile as the man provides for his family, Man vs. Hog….. everyone wins!