It’s a commonly known fact that pork is a taboo product in the Middle East. Of course this fact only serves to make pork somewhat of a delicacy. Being from Ireland and having a heightened appreciation for the lowly swine, I would make the comparison that Ireland is to Pork as what Waterford is to Crystal. For this reason, it has become my signature smuggle. Galtee Rashers, Denny Sausages, Clonakilty Pudding, Irish farm pork loin and chops and Carroll’s Ham. Over two years of packing sausages and rashers deftly between my undies and my skinny jeans, (suitcase, not person), we have hoarded quite the stash of piggy products, big enough in fact to constitute a second freezer.
Like with any collection be it art, stamps, first edition book, antiques etc, as the collection grows so too does the hunger of collector. I have firsthand experience in this area, as back in the eighties I owned a desirable collection of fancy papers, rubbers, toppers, (erasers and sharpeners as they have since been renamed) and notepads, some of which were even scented. As the collection grow so did my greed, in the end I was loathe to swapping even a single sheet from a notebook and woe betide the girl who used one of the fancy rubbers and scuffed a corner, this was an offence that could have a fatal effect on the friendship. So the collection remained largely untouched until twenty years later when I decided to bestow the collection to my daughter who lost it within ten days.
The same pattern has emerged again twenty five years later with the pork. Much stocking and careful consideration as to the ratio of the pork products being stocked in the contraband freezer and the collection was nearing completion. The perfect display of Irish pork products fit for a pork lovin’ king. Like any collection it had developed into something more, it became a source of comfort, a little bit of home was always there when you needed it, only when you needed it mind, this collection was not for everyday use. Extreme good or bad news would result in the packet of Denny’s finest sausages together with Galtee traditional back rashers being opened and fried in silence, as the kids looked on and tried to calculate how they would be divvied up. The meal would be eaten in silence out of respect for the bounty and quickly out of fear that someone would mutter the words, “are you eating that sausage?” while their fork hovered threatening over same.
So while we were throwing beef sausages on the barbie for friends we had the Denny ones for ourselves. Family members would come to the Middle East to visit and bring some items for the collection only to be thanked with turkey rashers for tea. Fellow Irish expats would plea that they had no ham for Christmas, we listening and stood protectively outside the freezer door, where inside out four juicy hams lay. The greed grew. We never shared.
It was a day like any other, the house was far from domestic bliss and work pressures were heightening, the only antidote was, chops for tea. Everyone looked forward to teatime and the option of chips and peas or mash and peas as the accompaniment, was the surprise element. It wasn’t until the next morning that the real surprise sprung, the freezer door had been left ajar and all inside was defrosting, the water dripping down the front of the freezer, like tears. All our efforts lost. All goods to be eaten within 2 weeks.
Day after day and night after night, we fed on the pork products. Kids had sausages for breakfast, rashers for lunch and ham for tea. Silence surrounded every meal, as we gorged, each one eyeballed the other the question hung in the air, “Who left the door open?”
Chinese torture was nothing in comparison to the two weeks of hell we endured devouring bacon, pudding and pork. The family was coming apart at the seams as the children cried for chicken and the open door issue became taboo. My failure to share with others was haunting me and I couldn’t see passed the stocks we had to finish. A conveyor belt of punishment, traditional, smoked, maple, hickory, it kept coming. I consoled myself that maybe it was teaching the children the quality of sharing, until our eldest piped up,”Next time we should close the door”. I sighed. This was truly the fruit of our loins.