I can’t help but look back and think about when Tony and I were dating, and I was getting to know his parents. Really, I wonder what they must have thought of me. You know, when you’re young, and you feel so wise, even worldly, then realize a decade down the line that there were a few (dozen) times you may have been considered not the sharpest tool in the shed? That was me!!
For religious reasons, Tony’s parents don’t eat shellfish, or pork. The very first time I met them, Tony and I had been at the beach all day, and bought a Dungeness crab from a bay front seafood market. The crab was fully cooked, but neither him nor I would realize this until 15 years later, when we took up crabbing, and saw what one actually looks like before it’s cooked. Had we known it was fully cooked, we would have cracked that puppy open at the coast, devoured it, and been done. But no, we dragged it to his parents’ house, put a pot of water on, and I proceeded to make the finest first impression ever. There was a bit of a private kerfuffle in the other room about the whole thing. The next thing I knew, Tony was shoving the whole crab back in the bag and throwing it in the freezer, never to be talked about again. That’s okay though, I bet the awkward tension made the crab meat taste terrible.
About a year post-crabtastrophy, Tony’s mom asked if I would pick up some pizzas for dinner. I was excited that she asked me, I remember that. I also recall her giving me a friendly reminder to make sure to get beef- NO PORK.
That trip to the pizza shop is engraved in my grey matter. There was a teenage boy, probably close to my age, working. I had a conversation with him, but mostly with myself, about how I needed a couple of pizzas with no pork. This boy was no help at all. I asked “Is pepperoni beef?” He just shrugged. Thanks a lot pizza-maker boy… Well, thank my lucky stars, this was right at the height of the “Pork, the other white meat” campaign. I said aloud, with much confidence, “Pepperoni is red, it must be beef!!” I was so very proud, even though pizza boy was useless, I was bright enough to put 2 and 2 together. I took my prized, pork free pepperoni pizzas and went on my oblivious way.
At the dinner table, I couldn’t help but notice that Tony’s mom was, ever so politely, peeling the carefully thought out topping from her pizza. “Is pepperoni pork?!?!” I asked, scared of the answer, really… She just nodded quietly. I could not believe it! After all of the thinking it through, after carefully color-cataloging meats in my head, I still flubbed it up!!
“The other white meat” my arse. Don’t believe the hype, pork comes in all shades, people! At least crab are only two shades, and FYI, if that is red, it’s already been cooked!!
Bless Tony’s parents, they truly love me like their own. After many years of feeling like salad may be the only safe choice I can offer, I have graduated to chicken! Just kidding, I know my pork and shellfish now. Bacon-wrapped oysters, anyone?