Monday, April 20, 2009

Roasting a pig at 1030 Hastings Street

So being Eastern Orthodox means we usually celebrate Pascha (Easter) later than the west does. We can be anywhere from the same day (next year for example) up to 5 weeks later, whichs makes getting all the post Easter goody sales a real bargin for us. Anyway this year we celebrated Pascha yesterday, only a week behind the west, and for the traditional feast that takes place after Agape Vespers we had a whole roasted pig. The Agape Vespers is the evening prayer service in the Orthodox Church and the second service we attend after the Paschal Liturgy which was served beginning at mid-night on Saturday. So anyway, the pig, it was my job this year to buy the pig and roast it.
An one hundred-thirty five pound whole pig takes about 8 hours to roast on an open pit and about an hour's worth of prep time, so I up at 6:00am, and this is after getting home around 3:30am from the Paschal service just a few hours earlier, to get the pig ready and at 7:00am I had the charcoal going and around 7:30 I got the pig on to roast. You can't just leave the pig alone and go off to do other things in the mean time because it does take some watching in case of the occasional flare up. So there I was, just me, the drizzling rain, a worn copy of "Fellowship of the Ring", and NPR. I had 8 hours of doing nothing ahead of me.
Since I was a bit sleep deprived I found myself dozing on and off for the first couple hours, and in between times getting in a few paragraphs of my book. At noon time I turned the pig over from it's back to it's belly to finish the cooking. The skin by this time was a nice golden brown and crackeling. As the pig cooked I grabbed the loaf of bread I brought with me and started sopping up the juices. If you ever get to roast a pig or lamb over a pit make sure you bring a loaf of bread with you as this is one of the perks that comes with the job. No flare ups yet. I'm starting to get bored, only two more hours until "Car Talk".
Someone from the parish shows up around 1:00pm to do some cleaning from the night before, askes me how I'm doing, and I share some bread and pig juices. A chapter or so later "Car Talk" starts and is a welcomed break from my boredom. Fifteen minutes into the show the first flare up occurs and out I go to do some fire fighting. Some welcomed excitment, but it quickly passes.
Three O'clock and I stab a themometer into a couple of the thickest parts of the pig to see where we stand. 135 degrees it reads, but I'm looking for 145 degrees which will ensure the meat to be cooked but not dry. A quick word on pork cookery. Pork does not, and I say this emphatically, have to be cooked to 165 degrees like the "experts" recommend. If you cook the pork to 165 degrees I would like to suggest you eat card board as this will be much cheaper and better flavor. Yes, it is true that I cook our pulled pork to 190 degrees, but this is the exception to the rule.
Three-thirty I check the tempature again and it's right where I want it. I get out the knives and start carving which takes me about a half hour. I rush off to Agape Vespers. When we get out of service the banquet is ready and we dig in. The pork is a great sucess and everyone is happily eating. My labors, as well as my boredom, are appreciated.
I went into this day with high hopes of discovering some great insight I could share with you. I mean setting around for a few hours with nothing to do gives me all kinds of time to fish for nuggets of truth about the meaning of life. But alas I have nothing to offer, just a retelling of an otherwise uneventful day and perhaps that's the point. Most of us lead boring lives that consists mostly of waiting for the pig to get done. Occassionally we get to put out a flare up or listen to a favorite show or get lost in a book but for the most part we just sit and wait. But you see, that's life. I don't know what your feast is or even if you believe there is any kind of a feast in the end of it all, but that's not the point. The point is make this time you have count for something. Try to make sure someone will benefit from your labors and boredom.

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