country-hamAnd lo, upon the approach of the celebration of the birth of our Lord, the angel of the Lord did appear in a great and heavenly light unto the lowly scribe to share with him the Word.

“Lowly scribe, I bring to you tidings of great joy. It has come to pass that you shall honor the tradition of your fathers and their fathers, and bring forth to the feast the holy Country Ham.”

And the scribe gazed upon the Lord’s messenger in awe, saying, “Dude, how did you get in here?”

“Fear not,” spoke the Angel. “There are great preparations to be made. First, thou shalt seek the holy Country Ham in a distant land.”

“Does Delaware count?” asketh the scribe.

“Where?”

“Delaware. One state over.”

“Sure, whatever, if that’s the best you’ve got,” sayeth the Angel. “Just watch out for those assholes with the black license plates. Anyhoo … once it is in thy possession, thou shalt scrub away the salt and the mold that lay upon it.”

“Wait, mold? I didn’t sign up for mold.”

“Really, kid? You order wings and ask for extra blue cheese dressing. Here’s a news flash – it ain’t blue because it’s depressed. Stop being so squeamish.”

“Jeez. Sorry.”

“No worries. It actually skeeves me a little, too. So … once the flesh is clean, thou shalt lay upon it the blade of the Holy Hacksaw, with which to shorten the shank and preserve the blessed hock.”

“Hacksaw? Hock?”

“Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. Makes great soup later. Plus, if you don’t the dang thing won’t fit into the pot. Oh, uh, right … And thy blessings will be manifold!”

“Is that it?”

And yea did the Angel say, “Oy! You should be so lucky! We’re just getting started. As it was foretold by the ancestors, thou shalt bring forth thy largest vessel, then immerse the blessed meat in the waters of the tap, so that the salts of the earth might be drawn forth from it, and thy dinner guests don’t end up looking like a cartoon coyote after getting slipped a dose of alum.”

“Okay, done. What’s next?”

“For two days, thou shalt do this, replacing the water at intervals of 12 hours.”

“Seriously?”

“Serious as shit, dude.”

“Right. We ever gonna get around to actually cooking this thing?”

“I’m working up to that. At the end of two days, thou shalt bring forth sugar the color of our Lord’s countenance …”

“So regular white …”

“BROWN! It’s the Middle-freakin’-East! You see any pasty-faced …? Man, when will you people get it?” And lo, the Angel did heave a heavy sigh. “Anyway, thou shalt bring forth the brown sugar, and make with it and mustard a poultice. With it thou shalt anoint the holy Country Ham liberally, spreading the blessings, massaging over its luscious fat and ample thickness, like the thighs of that girl from Judea who did that thing …”

“Anyway! Moving on.”

“Right. And when this is accomplished, thou shalt bake it, low and slow, and slice it as thin as the feathers on the wing of a seraphim. And thus will your guests rejoice greatly. For many days you will feast upon it – on biscuits and with grits – and thou shalt be blessed in the eyes of the Lord.”

“That seems like an awful lot of work for just a ham.”

“Kid, you have no idea. Trust me, though. It’s so worth it.”

 

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