Saturday, May 2, 2009

Porky THE Pig

Several years ago I was working as a facilitator for a company that had a Grambling University as a client. I had the opportunity to visit this particular school and one of its maintenance people. He was a mountain of a man with a truly southern gentleman’s deportment. He took me to meet with the budget committee and then we walked the campus. It was a lovely campus with your usual fare of young faces eager to get out of school and into the real world. My story isn’t about them though, it’s about me. I mean after all this isn’t called fresh faced college kid blog. It is called Gladys Tells All.

I am allergic to pork and pork products. ALL pork products. That means no bacon, no ham, no lard, no pork chops, no sausage, no ribs and no pork roast. It also means that I have to read all labels just in case they have used animal fat which usually implies ‘pig fat’. Pork in any way shape or form will trigger an instant and fierce migraine. It will drop me like Ali dropped Foreman. So I tend to stay far far away from anything piggy.

Back to my story. So me and Buddy, the maintenance guy, toured the facility, we spoke to the number crunchers and it was getting close to lunch time. My stomach was growling and Buddy heard it. “Miss Gladys, may I buy you some lunch” Buddy queried. I was thankful and agreed as he steered me toward the school’s cafeteria. The smells coming from those double doors were pure heaven. I was raised on good southern cooking and you could tell this was good just from the aroma wafting forth. It was so wonderful my knees were weak and I was wiping drool from my chin.

Bubba led me into the cafeteria full of young people joking and laughing but every one of them was relishing the food before them. I looked up at Buddy and said “that smells wonderful. I have never smelled anything so heavenly before.” He smiled and said “yes ma’am. These women and men in here prepare some scrumptious food. It’s kinda like eating at my grandma’s house. They’ve always got some good filling food.” We took our trays and started sliding them down the metal rails.

I searched the prepared salad’s and saw every type of salad you can imagine only every one of them except the jello salads had bacon or ham. I picked a congealed salad and went to the most important part of the meal, meat. I had a choice of pork chops, ham or pork ribs. I looked at the white haired smiling woman behind the sneeze guard and asked “do you have any chicken or beef?” She smiled back at me and said “no baby, we ain’t got no chicken today, but these ribs will fall right off the bone.” I stood there staring at the choices and reluctantly told her “no thank you.” We then slid down to the vegetables. Surely there would be something there and I didn’t mind eating vegetarian for the day. I spotted my favorite, creamed spinach. I looked imploringly at a young man who was serving up the sides and said “does that have bacon or ham in it?” as I point at the spinach. He shook his head and said “no ma’am. That doesn’t have either. It has pork rind in it.” I sighed heavily and moved to the next serving dish “how about the black eyed peas?” He took a spoon and stirred the peas and said “they have ham bone in them.” I looked over the other choices and to each one he answered an affirmative to pork. Then I spotted it. Homemade macaroni and cheese with all it’s cheesy goodness. I pointed excitedly at the golden mass and said “what about that?” He shook his head and said “bacon bits.”

Dejected I moved down the line and spotted a container of corn bread. I just knew I could eat the cornbread. I mean what is it? I make mine with butter, cornmeal and buttermilk. It should be safe. I asked the matronly woman tending to the bread “that doesn’t have any pork in it does it?” She said “lawd no. We make it with a little lard and some buttermilk.” I was getting depressed by this time and said “um, no thank you, lard is pig fat.” I was at the end of the line. The only thing left was desert. They had a piece of chocolate cake that was a foot high and dripping in chocolate goodness. I looked at Buddy and said “don’t tell me they use lard in their cakes too don’t they.” He smiled and said “Oh, that’s Miss Misha’s chocolate cake. She claims that she puts bacon fat and coffee in it to give it that rich flavor.”

I was done. That was all. I took my congealed lime jello salad sat at a table and watched as everyone around me pigged out. I was safe from a migraine but I might starve to death in the south.


Kelley said...

Oh my! And I thought my nephew had it bad because he can't eat anything with wheat. Bless your heart, that must have been awful! No offense Gladys, but I'm hungry for some bacon now!

The Texas Woman said...

Ah, yes. Watch you get the swine...I mean H1N1 flu, girl. With your allergy, you're a prime candidate.

Kidding. Just kidding.

The Texas Woman

Unknown said...

Well hi Gladys, I am so glad that you came over for a visit! I am really turning into a GW lover, I am amazed at the pretty plates and things you can purchase there for a fraction of the cost of retail! You poor thing, I cant imagine not being able to eat pork, and I am not even a southern gal. Please stop back again and I will be sure to follow your blog! Have a great day, Sue

lagirl said...

'You no eat no pig?"
You'd starve to death at my house, Gladys. Next time you come to dinner I'll make you some of your favorite - Lime Jello. No eatin' high-on-the-hog for you, GF.

Girly Stuff said...

Good grief!

I had a friend work in Wisconsin for awhile, the land of the cheeseheads. She said someone brought brownies covered in cheese to work.


But I guess we all work with what we know and have.

Beth said...

Had no idea pork could be used in so many foods.

Timely post! ;)

Queenie said...

Oh Gladys - as the former owner of a 350-head hog farm, my heart breaks for you: pork is sooooo delicious and yummy. What about turkey bacon?