Monday, May 21, 2007

The Saga of the Hams

I feel smug. I feel vindicated. I was right.

Ham kills.

"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.

Rut Row.

"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. ;-)


ally said...

i'm not crazy about ham, either. it's weird and annoying on my part but i really don't like ham and have to do the dance around not eating it during the holidays.

Miss Litzi said...

Hi Attila,
LMAO! Your graphic descriptions of baked ham are priceless! I can remember when my Mom would serve “the other white meat” for a Holiday meal, I’d be looking around for the nearest exit or wishing for a dog under the table that I could pass it off on. And why did Mom always have to buy the biggest haunch in the butcher counter? Was it her ulterior motive to torture the family for days on end with slimly, wet-cured, briny pig chunks mixed into any conceivable food product?

Even disguised with onions, cheese and turkey, I’m surprised you can eat it in a sandwich. The next time you’re served hog as the entrĂ©e, you could claim you’ve converted to vegetarianism and pig out (oops!) on the side dishes.

Thanks for a good laugh!

Attila The Mom said...

Ally and Miss Litzi---you guys are my soul-mates! LOL

"wet-cured, briny pig chunks"

Couldn't have said it better! I got the huzz shivers over that one!

golfwidow said...

How funny. I adore baked ham precisely because it was something we DIDN'T get to have growing up (Jewish household).

Unfortunately, I married a gentile, and he doesn't like it because, like you, he got overdosed on it as a kid. So I never make it.

I told you it was funny.

mjd said...

Hello Attila, I am visiting from Big Pissy.You had me rolling on the floor laughing at your hate for ham. After your colorful description, I am not sure that I want to eat hot ham either. Interesting idea of your mom to include ham in the other dishes. My son was a vegetarian; more than once he ordered some reportedly vegetarian dish at a restaurant that included bits of ham or bacon.

Rootietoot said...

I don't like it either, except as a paper thin slice of extra-salty country ham, fried crisp and put on a buttermilk biscuit.

For years and years, my husband had a job where he got to decide who to buy zillions of dollars worth of stuff from. In order to convince him he needed to buy from *them*, every Christmas and Easter we would get 10-12 Honeybaked hams from as many vendors of products. We'd give 2 or 3 to friends and the UPS man, and the rest to the food bank. I hate honeybaked hams.

My father's definition of eternity is:
2 people and a 10 pound ham.

carmachu said...

Wow, we must be twins sperated at birth. I really really dont like ham....and only eat it with mustard, occassionally.

Its funny when I go over the outlaws and eat everything but the ham....I still get looks.

Marymurtz said...

If I didn't like hot ham before, I loathe it now! LOL! This was priceless!

Blogarita said...

Funny post, especially when this very day, I have the other half of our Easter ham thawed and waiting to go in the oven.

I'm sure you won't be offended if I don't invite you for dinner.

Attila The Mom said...

Golf Widow----I can see it! I think many of us gentiles were forced to eat ham and mayonaise on white bread. It's All-American! LOL

MJD---Thanks for dropping in! I just read about the candy company that recently admitted to using animal products in their chocolate. If I was a vegetarian, I would be furious. If you can't trust a chocolate-maker, who can you trust?

Rootie---10-12 Honey baked hams would be my idea of hell. Hell, I tell you!

Car---Another soul-mate! It's so nice to know that I'm not alone! LOL

Mary---There is just something about shiny pink meat that reminds me of cannibalism. Excuse me---I have to go scrub my brain now.

mist1 said...

I dislike ham too. I have tried to get along with ham. I even bought one several months ago. It got furry in the fridge.

My hate for ham began when I was a kid. I got a huge blister on the palm of my hand and when it tore open, the pink flesh inside my hand looked just like ham to me. I've never been able to look at ham without thinking that.

Jennifer said...

Limey never liked ham before but I've managed to convert him.

I don't really understand why parents are so insistent on feeding their kids food that they KNOW they don't like.

With my mom and grandmother they always used to find a way to add pasta to my meal, which of course I never ate. I used to have to sit at the table for hours in a battle of wills until I either took a bite and puked or my mom freaked out and threw the food into the kitchen.

Big Pissy said...

I was a ham lover until I read this post.

Now I am converted.

Thank you. ;-)

Anna said...

I don't mind ham if it's the baked kind that's quite dry, but it's a little salty for me. I prefer chicken.

My parents used to force me to eat boiled ham (of the sort you buy from the supermarket, ready-sliced, in packets) - slimy, evil-textured, tasteless and SQUARE. There's not enough eeewww in the world.

Although I can cope with it now as part of a grilled cheese 'n' ham sandwich or on a pizza or something, because the sliminess is disguised by the cheese.

But yeah. I wouldn't care if ham had never existed.

fatman said...

Ham is evil. I was exposed to the cruelty that was called Ham-bone soup. Sounds bad enough, but when you see a chunk of flesh boiled in water with whole onions and carrots then ladled fattily into a dish and served with bread you realise that at some point in your life you offended your mother and she has found the perfect revenge.

Ham-bone soup proves Karma exists!

Rhonda said...

::Shudder:: I feel ill. Even when I wasn't a vegetarian, I couldn't even smell ham without gagging. It's the flesh color, I'm sure of it. And, it's slimy. Food should not be slimy, unless it's been in the fridge too long.

Reading this in the morning is a good thing. I'll be sticking to my diet all day because I've totally lost my appetite!

Brenda said...

I'll eat a little ham but not the stuff with all the water packed in with it. It has to be the dry cured ham or nothing. I don't especially like beef, I'll eat it, but it's not my favorite meat. I prefer chicken and fish/seafood.

Deb said...

I too have the very same reaction to ham. I love me some pork but noooooo ham!!!

Jennifer McK said...

I've always been the same way. The only way I like it is with LOTS of mustard. And it's too friggin salty!!!!

I get the same reaction from my whole family about mashed potatoes. I HATE mashed potatoes. Love potatoes every other way. But mashed? GAG.

My family thinks I'm nuts. *shrugs* Like that's the only reason they know this? Whatever.

Dorky Dad said...

I confess. I love ham. The Wife and I buy a big ham at Easter and spend the next six months eating it for every meal.

Plus, it makes an excellent weapon.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Attila, dear, you've got some serious ham issues - not that I blame you one bit. Ick. Don't touch the stuff myself. (nor do I touch fish eggs in snot, though the suggestion is giving me a hankering for tapioca pudding)

Rootietoot said...

My inlaws are coming for the weekend. Alas, I already have plans and won't be here. I guess I'll just bake them a ham.

Philip. said...

Great post - really funny :-)

I still love ham though :-)


Miss Litzi said...

Hi Attila,
It’d be interesting to know what people think about lamb. It’s every bit as repulsive to me as ham; it smells horrendous while it’s cooking (and the odor lingers for days); is greasy and has a most unpleasant taste. But I feel this way about any meat, so perhaps I’d better go eat my tofu and shut up.

phlegmfatale said...

" eggs in snot."

Decapitated? EW!
I think your hamophobia is well-justified! Great post.

Annie Drogynous said...

I'm Jewish and I like warm, sliced ham. It's the slimy cold stuff that comes in the form of cold cuts that kinda' creeps me out.

Kippa said...

Perhaps it's the pinkness.
How do you feel about pork?

mcewen said...

Three little pigs does it for me.

Charlie said...

I had trouble reading this post. I have a black eye (Martha accidentally punched it really hard) and I was holding a ham to it to bring down the swelling.

I'm curious to know your thoughts about creamed turnips. I always end up with them in my ears and hair.

Me said...

I hate ham toooo. pork = i love. ham - i hate.
Finally, a kindred spirit :)

Annie Drogynous said...

I saw this site and immediately thought of you.

Samantha said...

I love being a vegetarian :D

Kippa said...

Ham. Yummy.