Thursday, June 16, 2011

The End of the Tail

I drove to a Mennonite farmers' market with my stepmom this week. For lunch, we went to a small town called Heidelberg. In the past, I have gone there once or twice a year, usually with friends and family for one of my all time favourite meals (don't gag)....pigtails. It's not something I would eat all the time, or even frequently. Pigtails are special. I discovered this delicacy during my youth. My university choir went to the pub following practice one night. A fellow chorister convinced me to try a bite. I was hooked.

Fond recollections are associated with the consumption of pigtails. That's part of the appeal of food isn't it? Many of our most pleasant and memorable times with family and friends are connected with celebrations involving food and drink. Our choir has had reunions at Heidelberg. Tables have been shoved together and we have imbibed, reminisced, laughed and eaten.

I remember going to Heidelberg several times with my friend Karla and her family members, some of whom lived in that area. Her father, Richard, loved pigtails so much that he ordered two or three dinners and then a few more individual pigtails. We called him "the pigtail eating champion". On one occasion, he consumed nine tails at one sitting. My own dad who was along for one of these feasts was in awe. Another time, Richard ordered "a pigtail for dessert" after having already finished a few meals. It didn't arrive. The waitress thought he was joking and we all had a great laugh as we kept trying to convince her that he was serious.

My parents liked the Heidelberg pub. They would sometimes arrange to meet with grandma Rose and grandpa John at this location. This ensured that grandma Rose would not go to her usual exhaustive efforts of cooking and baking for days upon hearing that my parents would be in the vicinity. Mom and dad also went to Heidelberg with visiting family members, grandparents and cousins from Europe, an aunt and uncle from Winnipeg and so on. It was a novelty since "Heidelberg" was also the name of a city near their hometown in Germany. From time to time, we'd go during Oktoberfest to hear the small town pianist attempt to play "Ein Prosit" and "Roll Out the Barrel". It all sounds fine after a few of pints of their hausbrau beer.

I've made countless treks to Heidelberg over the years. I've even been there with hubby who passed up the tails in favour of pork hocks. This week, as I mentioned, I went with my stepmom. We celebrated our family and friends, some of whom have gone their separate ways and many of whom are now deceased. We ate with gusto. We ate pigtails.

Yesterday, I looked at the photo that I had taken of my dinner. I realized that another chapter of my life has passed and that I don't ever need to consume pigtails again. It's not because of the fat and calories,although it should be, but rather because I realized that the meal really wasn't that special.

I had the revelation that it's not about food. It's about the experiences and the company that go along with the meal. The memories of the fun times, the people and the enjoyment of past visits are images that can only be remembered. They can never be replicated.

Two tails, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, hold the gravy.

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