Thursday, July 16, 2009

no longer squeamish...

I don't know, do you? It might be a part of the whole "50" thing, but somewhere or other, the "squeamish, OMG run and scream or at the very least gag dramatically" switch has been turned off and I now have a "it's okay, it's GROSS OMG IT'S GROSS but it's okay" deadpan face. You may find this blase, perhaps a little mundane, even bordering on humdrum but to my surprise I find it quite refreshing.

When I was young I used to play down on the Winchuck River banks with my cousins (Lee and Roy, sometimes we'd involve Ruthie, their young sister but quite often we'd run and hide from her until she gave up and played dolls with our dogs). Lee, Roy and I would create amazing underwater kingdoms using what? We called them "waterdogs" but they've got a much more dignified scientific name "Newt" or the latin "Notophthalmus torosus." The castles and battles built and fought were glorious and memorable, even today when gathered for family doings, we reminisce about those days. I remember the day vividly though, when I crossed the line between "fun cousin" and "dumb girl" because Roy went to hand me a grimy bunch of these waterdogs and I not only flinched but dropped the whole lot of them, wiped my hand on my pants and said "ewwwww those are SLIMY." He looked at me as though I had grown a second head, or had sprouted alien fins or something horrific like that but truth is, I had in one breath grown squeamish. Thus ended the glory days of waterdog castles and worlds.

Life goes on...I moved away from the beautiful Winchuck River

Fast forward through a long series of events...
A couple weeks ago we had our Fourth of July events - now I should tell you this really has nothing to do with fireworks and picnics, it's not OUR "declaration of independence" but it's our time of commemoration and honoring of our veterans and those who passed on throughout the's a sad but amazing day and the happy side is there are namings and other festivities to end with. Because I help cook in the longhouse I had donned my satiny blue wingdress and tie-dyed apron and headed down to the longhouse where I helped out in any way needed for awhile. Salads were mixed, drinks prepared, deer meat cooking and helping with frybread.

Part of our traditional dinners include salmon, eels, deer, buffalo, elk, moose...these are the "Big Brother" foods usually handled by the men in the longhouse, not the women. Of these, eels are a tasty delicacy and they are highly anticipated for it's not often that we have enough for every table. Before I go on, I should tell you, my first tasting of them was not favorable but they kind of grew on me until now I love them too, they have a rich sandy kind of rivery to speak. There on the counter sat a tray of eels...I think all of us made a wide path around that tray, none of us really wanted to tackle them...finally our head cook Linda just started opening them up and my conscience got the better of me, "if you'll show me how, I'll help with these." To look at the outside of these I was already cringing on the inside, they looked slimy and smelled strong. Linda grabbed on and washed it then proceeded to show me how to clean them. I was not excited I have to tell you and a more grimy slimy yucky repugnant chore could not be found. HOWEVER, I grabbed the first eel and did as Linda instructed. There were forty eels to be cleaned for this dinner. FORTY. Somehow in the midst of cleaning forty eels I lost my "eel gag reflex" and just buckled down to do the work and by the last ten eels actually had a system!

Last night was another preparation for a longhouse dinner today. I couldn't be there today but showed up last night prepared to work...again, the salads were chopped (I DO love to chop onions, don't ask me why, somehow taking those lovely brown orbs and transforming them to pungently flavorful ingredients is therapeutic.

Celery chopped, eggs boiled, silverware wrapped (believe me, this sounds like a minute detail but having done this makes serving dinner SO much easier!) and in the cooler I noticed several hunks of deer meat STILL ON THE BONE (a good hunter knows that you do not bring deer meat to the longhouse on the bone)...OMG that's going to have to be cut up! I busied myself with many tasks, humming along with the service going on out in the longhouse. Still, I'd open the cooler and there they sat untouched. OKAYYYYYY. Pam, one of the other cooks began cutting and although I am by no means an expert, I know HOW to cut the meat up so again, cringing on the inside I grabbed a tray and started cutting...there's a system you know and for your own personal delicacy I will not describe to you except to say this, I managed to do it without being grossed out.

Is it true that I am no longer squeamish?

NO!!!!!! I got home last night and after all that, somehow a little frog had made his way into our home, as I walked up the hallway after changing into jammies, he leapt ahead of me as if to say "hey, glad you're finally home, guess I'll go outside!" I screamed...curled my toes and had one of the boys take him outside.

Nope. Guess you don't turn unsqueamish just cuz you're in your 50s!


Grandma K said...

Deer meat - I can and do handle easily. Eels, I don't think so!!!

Squeamish stays!

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