Derek, a friend and former youth group leader (almost in a past life), and I got reconnected on Facebook recently (yes, make your snide, cruel, and relentless attacks...I have joined the thronging masses). We had not seen or spoken to each other in over 10 years and he just happens to be in town. Seeing as I was still trying to figure out how to become an orthopedic surgeon...or...failing to do that...become a member of Aspen's ski patrol last time we talked (hey...I was 19...at least I didn't want to be an Indian any more...ok...that was a lie...I still want to be an Indian) we had a lot of catching up to do. Meeting up at a local restaurant we quickly found out that we share a few key passions...namely food and beer (big shock I know). We retired quickly to the house and promptly tried one of every beer I had left in my beer closet. While reminiscing and getting all kinds of beer-chemistry-nerd-like I happened to mention that I had 16 pounds of pork shoulder sitting in my fridge waiting to be turned into sausage and asked Derek if he would care to join me.
Derek is no fool and happily agreed.
Now, there is no crazy 56 piece gallery of pork grinding glory this time around. The beauty of making sausage, one of the many beauties, is that it is so wicked simple. There is no great art to it really. It is hard to screw up and...well...its sausage...who wouldn't stick it in their mouth?!? I decided to get all kinds of ambitious however and make six, yes 6, kinds of sausage. Here was my recipe sheet:
On the list were:
- Merguez - A Moroccan lamb sausage...made with pork...all irony included.
- Hot Italian
- Sage and Ginger Breakfast
- Roasted Pasilla
Derek was enthralled, as is plainly evidenced here:
You can't buy or fake that kind of contemplative bliss/focus. This was a man who, like everyone else that makes sausage for the first time, was simply lost in the genius/insanity that is sausage making. Somewhere around the fourth or fifth round he commented something to the effect of:
"Dude, you have completely revitalized my desire for sausage. I am reinvigorated to cook. You are the best guy in the whole world."
Ok, the last one he didn't even remotely say, nor is it remotely true, but the other ones he did say. I was moved, touched, and driven to make even more people feel the same way.
We spent a lot of time talking about just how good food is and how crazy it is that as God's image bearers we find it to be so. There is no reason to enjoy food as much as we do. There is no reason to enjoy art, mountains, rivers, or country music either (yes, the latter is growing on me...I've got to entrench myself in Nashville culture you know). While the problem of evil is a difficult one for people of all worldviews to cope with (yes, including you), beauty, enjoyment, and the things in life that give us the most pleasure are no simpler to deal with.
In the Christian tradition God created everything good. Man screwed it up royally (by eating something I might add), but not completely. This is a good thing. Common grace abounds and we see the goodness of creation around us constantly. According to the bible God is in the process of putting the world to rights. One day this job will completed. Until that time we are left with glimpses of things to come. The smile of a child on a carousel, the man who jumps into a burning building to save a neighbor and succeeds, and (I'm completely not joking here) a fantastic sausage sandwich are all things that bring us a certain kind of inexpressible joy. That these things are merely a foreshadow of the reality to come is mindbendingly cool.
I could go on, but I won't. It's rad, that's all.
I am now in the possession of 15 pounds of sausage and mere months before the move to Nashville. My wife, always the rational and thinking one of the family pointed out that this would be the predicament just as I hefted the pork shoulder onto the cart at the market with reckless abandon.
"Don't worry" I told her "we'll have lots of people over before then and they'll help us devour it."
Don't make me a liar.