Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Pig Roast

Every Labor Day weekend for the past 36 years, Charles and Darlene Lamberson of Logan, Iowa, have held an end-of-the-farming-season celebration on their spacious farm.

Chuck and Darlene are family friends, and my family has been attending this event, called The Pig Roast, since before I was born.

Even though Jamie and I haven't been in a few years, someone from the Kelsey family is always present, with only one or two exceptions over the three-plus decades of the Roast. This weekend, my wife and I were able to attend, and since my parents couldn't make it (only the third time they've missed in 36 years) and my brother and his wife were unavailable, Jamie and I were the family representatives.

I could write a book about how wonderful The Pig Roast is. But for today, I'm going to stick with the food.

Of course, the main dish is the pig. The pork is slow-roasted in a huge rotisserie firepit with an electric motor. They start cooking it on Saturday afternoon and it cooks all night before being served on Sunday. The pork is then sliced and chopped up fine and served up as sandwich meat. The pork is always tender, but this year it was indescribably succulent. They also cook a boatload of cubed, seasoned potatoes and onions in the firepit, and they were also exceptionally tender and delicious.

Then everyone brings something to contribute to the feast. The first year my parents attended, my mother asked Chuck what they could bring, and Chuck said, 'Bring a covered dish.' My mother did not know what that meant in pot-luck etiquette, so she brought an empty tupperware dish. It's become a running joke, and in addition to my wife's cornbread, we also toted an empty dish to the festivities this year to present to Chuck on behalf of my parents.

The side dishes range in variety from pasta salad to cole slaw to deviled eggs and fruits and breads and vegetables. All delicious, of course.

And then there's the dessert.

Here's one of the many beautiful things about the Pig Roast: they serve the food at about 1 p.m., but then they leave the buffet available all night long. People often bring more desserts than will fit the first time around, so after everyone gets a plate at 1 p.m., Darlene will place the rest of the desserts on the buffet throughout the night. So if you go in at 3 p.m. for a snack, you might find peanut-butter rice crispies treats that weren't there before; go back at 6, and you'll find a raspberry cheesecake.

Like I said, I could write a book about this.

But I'm not going to tonight. Even after the four-hour drive home, I am still stuffed to the gills. I'm going to go rest in my easy chair, and I may never eat again.

... Who am I kidding? The next Pig Roast is just 12 months away.

--Matt Kelsey

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