Tag Archives: Pork

Not For The Faint of Heart

I’ve heard it said many times that growing old is not for the faint of heart. This past Sunday I had an experience that brought that saying home. It was hardly the first time I’ve experienced something that threatened my health or slapped me upside the head with my mortality, but it was sufficiently different that it definitely got my attention.

My wife had decided to make homemade shrimp/pork wontons. She had spent some time getting all the ingredients for the filling and our daughters and I had filled and formed a little over 50 wrappers. We decided to cook them outside on the side burner of our Weber Silver-C gas grill, using a cast iron dutch over and peanut oil. I wasn’t quite sure it would get hot enough, but it definitely did. In fact, no sooner did I start deep frying then I had to turn the flame down a bit.

I was only able to fry four or five at a time, so it took a while and I was standing still for the entire time, using metal tongs to flip the wontons over so they would cook the meat, veggies, and seasonings thoroughly without burning the wrapper. During that time I barely moved a thing other than my arms and hands.

The tops of my feet had been feeling a little strange for the past couple of days, but I hadn’t paid really close attention to them. I finished and went inside, sat down, and enjoyed our meal with the family. Shortly after I finished eating, I happened to look at my feet, as they really were feeling weird. To my horror, not only were my feet swollen, but my ankles were as well. Where I could normally see tendons and veins, there was nothing but stretched out skin.

I recalled this was a symptom of possible congestive heart failure and I know I have a history of moderately high blood pressure and two years ago was also diagnosed with atherosclerosis of the aorta. I was concerned. My first response was to ensure I drastically limited my salt intake and I decided to see how I did after a night’s sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, my feet were a little less swollen. I sent a message to my doctor and am awaiting a response. I really hate the term, mostly because it’s used so frequently by anti-vaxxers and science deniers, but yesterday I decided to do some of my own research. As a result, in addition to limiting my salt intake (something I wasn’t being careful enough about) I wore a pair of knee-high socks to bed and placed a couple of pillows at my feet to elevate them over my heart.

When I awoke this morning, the first thing I did was remove the socks to look at my feet. To my relief, they had pretty much returned to normal. I could see all the tendons and veins that normally stood out rather conspicuously. I’m still waiting for my doctor and will consult with him, but I think I have a fairly good idea of what I need to do to ensure this doesn’t happen again. This is definitely not something to ignore or sweep under the rug. The body does not heal or remain healthy by ignoring what it’s telling you and this was a cry to do something different. That I will!

PS – The condition I experienced is called edema. As a result of looking into it and posting something about it on Facebook, I learned the adjective form of the word, which is edematous.


The McRib’s Ribs . . . Aren’t. Nu?

I was raised to be intimately familiar with lunch meat. All kinds of lunch meat. And sausage. My father worked in the Grand Central Market from my birth until my Bar Mitzvah. Faber’s Ham Shop. They didn’t sell fresh meat, except chicken. Everybody sold fresh chicken because it was small and easily cut into its constituent parts, a feat not possible with a cow or a pig. He mostly sold lunch meat, or what is sometimes referred to as smoked meats. Not all of it was, but that’s of little importance to this story.

I can still recall the scene after my Bar Mitzvah – I mean immediately after; probably in a private room during the reception (it was at a place in North Hollywood, CA, USA that has gone the way of the Dodo bird) – where I endorsed every check I had received as a gift from my family and our friends. I immediately handed the checks over to my father, who was leaving Faber’s Ham Shop and striking out on his own. He was buying a truck and becoming a peddler. A meat peddler. It was an amicable resignation, as Louie Faber became one of my old man’s best customers and the Grand Central Market was always pretty central to my father’s success.

I bring this up merely to demonstrate my familiarity with — perhaps a modicum of expertise in the field of — lunch meat in all it’s numerous incarnations (Oops!) and variety. I have eaten just about every one of those varieties. I didn’t necessarily care for them once I tasted them, however. Head Cheese and Olive & Pimento Loaf come to mind, but I tried them. Some of the varieties I was quite fond of, especially since they were already cooked and I could grab one whenever I was hungry. This was especially true of hot dogs and FARMER JOHN® Hot Louisiana Brand Smoked Sausage, the former of which we sold in very large quantities loosely packed in boxes of about 50lbs.; the latter of which came in cases of 10 5lb. boxes. It was easy to open a case, pick up a box, open it, and remove (and eat) one of the hot links.

How to Make a McRib

Do NOT Attempt This in Your Kitchen

This brings me to the graphic that appeared on my Facebook News Feed yesterday; a graphic which tickled me to no end. As I have said, what we today view primarily as culinary crap; unhealthy, sometimes disgusting pseudo-food, was a long-time staple of mine. Frankly, I still eat hot dogs, though I now only purchase all-beef (usually from Trader Joe’s) and I deeply appreciate the occasional Nathan’s natural casing wiener <snap!>. This graphic makes it quite clear the author subscribes to the assertion the McRib is constructed of mystery meat. I’m not sure I agree with the assessment (Wikipedia reports the faux ribs are actually formed from pork shoulder meat), but I now avoid this sandwich like the plague .  .  . as I do everything by most all fast food outlets (franchise or not).

Nevertheless, I can empathize with the sentiment expressed in the last box of this flow chart. I wouldn’t hesitate for a New York minute to scarf one of these babies, i.e. if the only objection was that they’re not really made out of rib meat. I can get by that without batting a eyelash. Unfortunately, there are other reasons involving my health I now refuse to eat this stuff. Doesn’t mean I don’t miss the hell out of it.


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