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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Importance of Honoring One’s Heritage

As so many stories do, it started with a pickled sausage.

“We should pull over,” Karen says.

“What do you mean,” I say, channeling our father.  “We’re making good time.”

We’ve been on the road for almost four hours, over three-quarters of that time in the dark.  At our destination, it is snowing, but here, on Hwy 61, there is nothing but rain, surprising curves in the road, and the silent, unseen expanse of Lake Superior, just over there, to our right.

I can feel Karen staring at me in the dark.  “I’m either going to starve,” she says gravely, “or I’m going to pee my pants.  Your choice.”

“I’m feeling a bit peckish myself,” I say.

We pull over just north of Duluth, certain that we are near our destination.

“Oh, no, honey,” says the gal at the cash register.  “You got about another 75 miles.”

Karen and I look at each.  “How ‘bout we double down on the snacks?” she says.

And there, in the aisle of pressed corn flour, sunflower seeds and dried meats is our old childhood friend.

“Look at this,” she says.

Marinating in a vinegary brine, encased in plastic and ready for public consumption, is my father’s idea of a road snack.  Friend to the pickled egg, compatriot of pork cracklin’, our snacks growing up all had something of an edge to them. 

We are staring at a pickled sausage.

We look at each other.

“I have to have it,” I say.

She looks at the packaging.  “It’s practically guaranteed to be made of mechanically separated meats,” she says.

“It’s just the right amount of nostalgia and horror,” I say.

“Plus,” she says, pointing at the label, “there’s a 1-800 number.  Something I look for in a snack food.”

“Fresh is over-rated.”

We buy two.

Over the course of our weekend, however, we forget about the pickled treats.

Until I find them, two weeks later, in my purse.

And since finding them, I’ve been sending her pictures.

Her pickled snack folding my laundry.

Her pickled snack taking an early morning seat on the bus.

Her pickled snack in front of a computer screen working on a spreadsheet.

Her pickled snack posing as a doctor.

“You have a lot of time on your hands,” she texts me.  “What goes on in your head?”

“You have no idea,” I say.

The sausage, of course, will go back to Karen, as is only right.  It’s her pickled meat; she paid for it.

Still, I will miss it.

Karen’s pickled meat snack enjoys long walks in the woods, bubble baths, and honesty.  Her pet peeves are hypocrites, people who are late, and insincerity.  She hopes to meet the sausage of her dreams in a nice deli some day.


Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
...and HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you my friend!!! Thanks for all the smiles and moments of meaningful-ness... YAM xx

vanilla said...

Are you sure the snack is the only thing that is pickled? ;-)

Glen Staples said...

quality -- my father would never stop - it just didn't happen -- snacks would be my mother's egg mayonnaise buns ... loving the sausage life though - you should keep that going - there's a book in the life of a pickled saussage

Pearl said...

Yam, and to you as well!

Vanilla, LOL. Normally a valid question, but not on the road!

Glen, we have my father to thank for the fact that I never drink -- anything -- on the road. You do that, you're risking a need to stop for a bathroom break, and here we were making such good time...

wellfedfred said...

Echoes: has everybody gone yet? Does anyone need to go again? We're leaving now! I said now! I said now and I meant it. If we don't leave now we'll have to take a shortcut (dreadful fate of spending rest of day in car since pop's shortcuts never worked. Ever.)

Happy thanksgiving!

jenny_o said...

I've never seen or heard of pickled meat. I learn so much here.

Ian Lidster said...

Priceless picture and the bonus being she didn't pee her pants.

Geo. said...

Duluth, Highway 61, now I've got that old Dylan song in my head --a sign of early onset pickled meat.

River said...

I've never heard of pickled sausage, only pickled herring which I never, ever ate.
I love your last paragraph, "Karen's pickled meat snack....hopes to meet the sausage of her dreams..."
I laughed my head off.

Leenie B said...

Pickled sausage posing as a doctor has just the right amount of nostalgia and horror.

Anonymous said...

Pickled mystery meat encased in synthetic lambs intestine...yum...what was that 1-800 number again?

Elephant's Child said...

Some heritages should be forgotten. And pickled artificial meat is one of them...

Chicken said...

This is just the kind of Pearlism I needed to increase my cocktail hour enjoyment. Thank you Pearl. And now I must go write a post about my Dad's pickled eggs. Now available at a Sam's Club near you, seemingly.

Gigi said...

Hahahaha! Love it. Yes, Karen definitely needs to get that back.

Happy Thanksgiving, sweetie!

Catalyst/Taylor said...

Wonderful! Will pickled sausage be on your, or Karen's, Thanksgiving menu?

Joanne Noragon said...

Ah, hypocrites. The left over pie dough, cut in triangles, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, roll wide end to short and baked alongside the pie in my brother in law's mother's kitchen oven. He stops at the word and looks around. He's never met a hypocrite, except those ones his mother made.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I think it should go back to her with a side of pickled mushrooms or beans.

Rose said...

Pickled sausage??!! Now that's a first. I do not like pickles so would not like that!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

There is something to be said for pickled meat that stays in your purse for two weeks and not smell. Bless those preservatives .

Daisy said...

I shuddered a little reading this. I've never heard of pickled sausage. It sounds quite scary!! :D Happy Thanksgiving, Pearl!

Diane Tolley said...

My dad was a pop and chocolate bars traveler. Every time we had to make a pit stop, more pop and chocolate bars. We were so fizzed up that we could outrun the car. And I know I've seen the inside of every fill-up station washroom in the known world.