Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Scrap Metal

When I was a kid we would have lamb roasts at my paternal grandparents' house several times every summer. During his years of working at the steel mill my grandfather amassed enough scraps of sheet metal and enough knowledge to weld himself a large oven for roasting whole animals. He built it in a small building in the backyard we called the shanty. Every family member within a reasonable distance would turn out for these events. For hours the lamb would spin on the spit over the flames, and my grandfather and uncles would take turns keeping watch.

When it was finally finished cooking they would take a sheet of plywood on two sawhorses and load the tender carcass onto it. Knives would be passed all around and the feasting would begin. Someone would make a plate for my grandma and any other elderly relatives in attendance , but for everyone else it was first come, first served. Us kids would hover behind our dads, who would occasionally toss us a juicy morsel or crisp piece of skin, but we never got a plate. Once my grandpa had eaten his fill, his sons would go to town.

Within minutes there was nothing left but bones.

Barbaric? Yes. But the way they tell it, all meals went that way. When you have seven sons and a low paying union job, portions were often meager at best. If you showed up late, it was likely that another brother would have already consumed the contents of your plate.

As they grew up, the famine became more of a feast. Still, to this day they devour roasted lamb in the same way they did as kids. And as he watched his seven grown sons pull this animal limb from limb last weekend a tear ran down his cheek.

Left to right: David, Rob, Dan (my dad), Michael, Mark, Joe and Tom.

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1 comment:

Arizaphale said...

Love it! Love the idea of the breadwinner getting first go at the food, love the home made oven, love the seven grown sons. Great post.