My father said he wanted boiled pig's tails for dinner and my mother didn't know he was kidding

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

The first time my mother cooked a traditional boiled dinner, it wasn't pretty, and it certainly wasn't appetizing. My grandmother had raised my father on a variety of different meats that some people would find unappetizing, including my mother.

When my parents were newlyweds, my mother asked my father to tell her about his favorite cuts of meat, which she planned to include the first time she prepared a boiled dinner for him. My mother expected that some of his selections might be unusual, and she was prepared to accept that.

Nonetheless, when my father's wishlist of meats included pig's ears, pig's feet, and even a pig's tail, my mother began to wish she had never asked. The only thing my mother was familiar with that he asked for was a pork shank, which is basically a part of the pig's leg. So there was definitely a theme when it came to my father's culinary choices: pig parts that were heavy on the bones and cartilage.

My mother went to the meat market the next day. She considered herself fortunate that the butcher had all the various cuts of pork, including the bony pig's tails that she needed for my father's dinner.

"I thought he was going to be so pleased," she told me, "but I was wrong. It was a catastrophe."

My mother boiled everything until it was all tender "...and ugly to look at. I thought I was going to be sick from just looking at that meat," she told me. My mother added potatoes and cabbage to the pot and waited anxiously for my father to come home and enjoy his feast.

She couldn't wait for him to see that she'd found all the meat he'd asked for, even the more unusual cuts, especially the pig's tails.

When my father arrived home from work and lifted the lid from the pot, he looked sick. "What the heck is that?" he asked my mother.

She was confused. "It's exactly what you asked for," she replied.

"Take it out," he replied. "I can't eat that. Throw it away. I can't even look at it."

"You want me to throw away the entire meal I just made?" my mother asked.

"No," he replied. "I'll eat the pig's feet, pig's ears, and the shank. It's just the pig's tail that has to go."

How could my mother have known that my pig-feet-and-ear-eating father would draw the line at pig's tails? If it was a joke, then the joke was on him because my mother took it literally.

Personally, I don't enjoy boiled dinner regardless of its ingredients. My mother raised me on burgers and fries from Burger King and McDonald's. That's why I don't have unusual tastes in food. My favorite meat is ground beef, and I would rather starve than attempt to eat a pig's foot, boiled or otherwise.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

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