Storm coming. Storms having come. We made the decision not to leave the house, not to pull out on the highway in my 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier loaded with ourselves and the cats. I strapped myself to the iron fence like Ahab lashed to the great whale. Catastrophe in the air. What would the night bring? In the meantime, let’s smoke pork belly.
Ah, all the times I’ve bought a pork belly at Revival Market, marinated the promising slab of flesh, fat, skin and bone overnight and then lovingly counted the clock that tells the time until a red line announced an elaborate bacon awaiting the eating. Certainly, part of my Houstonian mask may be found in the backyard at 2408 Cortlandt where local animals fed the family, where their sacrifices honored our table. This particular glowing animal is a Mangalitsa and Red Wattle mix pastured in Yoakum, Texas. Praise the Spanish for bringing the pig. Praise the Spanish for bringing their language. Praise the Spanish for bringing their cuisine. Everything else including a blood-thirsty god we could do without. Shall I speak of the marinating the previous night? I shall. Apple cider, brown sugar, honey, molasses and herbs. What vat of ingredients did this particular cut smoke over? Karbach Hopadillo IPA with lemon and watermelon rinds. The wood over which the cauldron bubbled? Pecan wood from Uncle Will’s Wood Yard. Now, it’s all a matter of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey sitting . . . wait, let the Doctor explain.
All in place as natural ingredients turn natural ingredients into natural delight. Eight hours from 225-250 degrees. Since smoke cooks the meat, what shall I do?
Well, as I awaited all along the flooding plain time to sip a Gin and Tonic . . . or several. At first a sip, then maybe a gulp or two. Hendrick’s Gin and Fever Tree Tonic with a cucumber slice. Clearly in this photo, cucumber slice already eaten. What else? Well, tunes of course. And tunes quite synched to the coming armageddon.
Light and shadow have their play. Gray, gun-metal clouds pile the sky. Something wicked this way comes. I float between land and sky, water and earth dreaming of Thales, who dreams of water as revealed by Aristotle.
Others say that the earth rests on water. For this is the most ancient account we have received, which they say was given by Thales the Milesian, that it stays in place through floating like a log or some other such thing (for none of these rests by nature on air, but on water) – as though the same argument did not apply to the water supporting the earth as to the earth itself.
. . . perhaps taking this supposition from seeing the nurture of all things to be moist, and the warm itself coming-to-be from this and living by this (and from which they come-to-be being the principle of all things) – taking the supposition both from this and from the seeds of all things having a most nature, water being the natural principle of moist things. (The PreSocratic Philosophers, Cambridge)
Yes, moist and smoked in a world returning to water. The darkening of glaze and the sweetening and moisturizing of a warm bath brought to pass flesh ready for pulling. The smell, how to describe the smell except for a deep, bone-disturbing array of all the natural ingredients of the world suggesting the blackest roux and tarty tartness of apples with an umami to die for.
Sticking fingers deep within meat, fat, skin and bones; pitching and yawling with smoked flesh rewarded the very actions with a deep immersion in a sweet, burnt wood aroma tugging on all the taste sensors in the body as well as affording moments for contemplation of heaven and earth. Yes, this is the beginning of the world. This is the truest philosophy of all. Pulled Pork on Corn Tortillas with Peppers and Arugula Salad and Garlic vinaigrette. Demian, Gabriela and I ate and ate, stuffing ourselves as in preparation of the oncoming ocean rolling across land.
Rain and more rain. I think of all the rain in the short stories and novels of Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez, such as “Monologue of Isabella Watching It Rain in Macondo” from Leaf Storm. Yes, Macondo–the village famous in One Hundred Years Of Solitude where the rain falls in a biblical fashion. Here’s a small glass filled with deluge.
It rained all afternoon in a single tone. In the uniform and peaceful intensity you could hear the water fall, the way it is when you travel all afternoon on a train. But without our noticing it, the rain was penetrating too deeply into our senses. Early Monday morning, when we closed the door to avoid the cutting, icy draft that blew in from the courtyard, our senses had been filled with rain. And on Monday morning they had overflowed. My stepmother and I went back to look at the garden. The harsh gray earth of May had been changed overnight into a dark, sticky substance like cheap soap. A trickle of water began to run off the flowerpots. “I think they had more than enough water during the night,” my stepmother said. And I noticed that she had stopped smiling and that her joy of the previous day had changed during the night into a lax and tedious seriousness.
I finished the night sitting out on the front porch, smoking a AJ Fernandez New World “Oscuro” Cigar and taking in the rising waters. What would I find come morning? What would find all of us? Bon Appétit!