I feel smug. I feel vindicated. I was right.
"Why Attila", you might ask. "Whatever do you mean?"
I don't just despise hot ham. I absolutely loathe it with a passion bordering on phobia.
So today when I read about a woman who got her head cut off in a horrible accident while cleaning a machine that processes hams, I felt validated.
It's not a vegetarian thing. When I watched the movie Babe, all I could think about was, "mmm, bacon!" I thought they should make Wilber into ribs as soon as possible on Charlotte's Web, just to shut the critter up already.
And I'm not a particularly picky eater. I like bacon, sausage and ribs. I can even take a thin slice of cold ham in something like a club sandwich where it's mixed in with all the other stuff. Such as lots of onions.
It's the big, glistening pink slabs with the ring of white fat around the edges that sends me screaming from the room.
You Canadians? You can't fool me. Cutting the fat off and calling ham bacon doesn't make it bacon.
Maybe it was all the holiday dinners we had when I was a child, when my mother proudly brought in a platter of clove and pineapple-encrusted pink flesh the size of a toddler torso, and my dad beamed at it as if it was his first-born child.
And then promptly carved it up with the BIG sharp knife.
We were expected to consume every salty bite on our plate. There were starving children in China, you know, who would be grateful to be as lucky as me.
Maybe it was all the potluck dinners we went to for the church, committees, school functions, etc where Mom would help us load our plates and I would ALWAYS get a big spoonful of some kind of casserole with humongous chunks of HOT HAM in it. You can't hide it with sauce unless that sauce is made of something even grosser, like--uh---fish eggs in snot.
Those scary pink lumplets jump out and say "gotcha" no matter what you try to disguise it with.
And you know the rules of potlucks. You can't hit the dessert table if you throw away food. There are starving children in China, you know. Plus the cook might be sitting next to you and you might hurt some feelings if you make gagging noises while trying to force said lumplets down.
Who knows? I just remember missing all the good stuff at those dinners.
When I became an adult, one of my first acts of emancipation was to decide that I didn't have to eat hot ham any more.
I don't actively ban ham from the house. I just don't buy whole hams (I do buy lunch meat for the guys). For a lot of years, various employers or relatives would give us a ham for the holidays. Little Guy orders Hawaiian Pizza all the time. We eat out often enough that they can all order ham to their hearts' content if that's what they want. They're not deprived. It's not like we eat lobster every week either.
Anyway, some years ago, we were supposed to go to my Mom's for Christmas dinner.
She lives far enough away so that we stay in a hotel when we visit on the holidays. Due to an unforeseeable complication with our dog-sitter, we were actually unable to come up until the next day. But since Mom wanted all her kids together for a holiday meal, gosh-darn-it! she was going to re-create Christmas dinner with the leftovers from the day before!
So we went to Mom's for the Day After Christmas Dinner with Leftovers from Real Christmas Dinner. We offered to take everyone out, but I think she was doing a little passive/aggressive number because we didn't just drive up and back the same day (yeah, my hubby and kids want to spend 4 hours driving on Christmas simply so she can have all of us together on THAT SPECIFIC DAY!). She was serving ham. Oh Joy.
But no biggie, I could skip the ham. There would be other stuff. I asked what we could bring, and she said, "Just yourselves!"
Turns out that Mom was worried that there wouldn't be enough leftovers to feed everybody, so she decided to supplement everything. Not actually add a couple of dishes of veggies or anything like that, mind you. She just decided to saw up the ham and add chunks of it to everything. The green bean casserole. The scalloped potatoes.
The only things she DIDN'T add ham to were the coleslaw and fruit salad with whipped cream. But she decided that there wasn't enough of either of those for everybody, so she mixed them together. And threw in a handful of nuts, I think.
At least she couldn't figure out a way to add ham to the crescent rolls, but only because I think she baked them the day before!
I was stoic about it all (knowing I could get a burger at Micky D's) but I made a big mistake.
A little later, when my older brother and I were outside, I said, "WTF WAS THAT?"
I should have remembered that he was a rat-fink mama's boy.
So right before Christmas the next year, when I asked Mom what she wanted, she asked if Hubby and I would come to her house and cook dinner. Oops.
We did, it was lovely, and it's all good. Even though she tried to stuff us with slices of a honeybaked ham a couple of hours before dinner.
When I found my birth mother a couple of years later, and we were in the "getting to know you" stage, I confessed to her my loathing of hot ham and my part in the above drama. I was thrilled to find out she converted to Judaism when she eventually married, because maybe I could claim a Hebrew heritage the next time some well-meaning soul tried to press a slab of pepto-pink grub on me.
Unfortunately, I don't think it works that way. She should have converted before I was born.
She braved the eggshells (which we all walk on in new reunions) and chided me a little for my unkindness.
That Christmas she sent a big box to my hubby. He put it under the tree. I looked it over.
"Honey," I said. "I think we need to put this in the refrigerator. This appears to be a ham."
He looked at the box doubtfully. I don't think she'd send us a ham. My parents' don't send us cartons of pecans when they use the Schermer's boxes.
"We better open it and make sure."
It was a ham. A big Smithfield ham the size of my 17-year-old son's thigh from knee to butt-cheek.
We laughed our asses off.
A new chapter in the Saga of the Hams was born.
I'm a bad bad daughter. ;-)