Josh Venne • Highland, NY
You can find “Sunday Swine” and four other memoirs on “Pork and Identity” in the ‘Meat Up’ section of issue 17 of Meatpaper.
When I was a kid, my father dragged me to the local butcher shop every Sunday. I was always bored. I wondered why we had to come to this specific store just for meat, where the butcher has enormous hands. I couldn’t understand anything he said, and would spend hours sniffing the salt cod that adorned the filthy storage area.
When I finally sampled the dried Portuguese sausage that my father would always buy, I was speechless. My young palate couldn’t begin to distinguish the flavors I had just stuck into my mouth. I couldn’t process it. All I knew was that I loved it, and that I finally understood the reason for the weekly Sunday pilgrimage to this shop. I hadn’t had anything like it before.
Once I had tried the sausage and understood its draw, my father would give me some every Sunday if I behaved well. My brother, being a much pickier eater, was initially hesitant, although once he too finally gave in, he began to regularly try to pillage my portion.
One day, my brother got a hold of my piece of sausage in the back seat of our car as my dad was driving. He started to devour it as fast as he could, but the stiff, dry exterior and large marbles of fat slowed down his chewing. That, and the punch I swiftly delivered right to his gullet.
As punishment, I didn’t savor the beloved dry Portuguese pork sausage again for months. Eventually, though, I was the one dragging my father to the butcher for another mouthful of that glorious pig.