Monday, December 29, 2008
"Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest."
It would be erroneous to suggest I return to Ireland just for the sausages.
Most unfair, it would be, to the old hills and the idle sheep and the curling rivers and of course to Mater.
That being said, there are for me no sausages like the ones to be found at home. I grew up on a diet of fat pork sausages that never, over the years, diminished in taste, nor did they leave me hungry; but I am miles now from the sort I was accustomed to. I have long since resigned myself to the loss, and I look forward when plotting my next visit to the familiar taste of home.
So it struck me as a cruel and merciless trick to hear the solemn news that recently broke over Ireland the very day that I was due to fly there.
Due to either an anomaly, an accident or a miserable act of fate, every pork product in Irish stores was deemed a potential health hazard of disastrous proportions, and ordered to be ripped from the shelves, and burned, and those shelves were to remain bare until further notice.
Since none of the experts were quite certain what the precise length of Further Notice might amount to; and since my stay in Ireland was to be little more than one week; and since pork constitutes almost the entirety of an Irish breakfast; and since an Irish breakfast constitutes a considerable portion of what I eat in Ireland, one would have to forgive me for my intensely selfish reaction.
I stood dumbfounded among my luggage and my disintegrating visions of a hearty welcome meal, sure that the entire event was directed at me, concocted to provoke distress in me alone.
With the knowledge that there was not a sausage to be found at home, my feet would not assist in escorting me to the plane and they caused a terrible fuss.
I managed, in the end, to get where I wanted to go, but there was for once no tantalising mound of sausages to greet me on my homecoming.
Upon landing in Ireland, I had an opportunity to glimpse the pork section of a large supermarket. I had never seen such a grim sight inside a store: the back wall, normally dedicated to sausages and similar delicious items, had been scrubbed clean, and plastered all about were official notices apologising for the inconvenience. Crusty-eyed and exhausted and thoroughly miserable, I thought there and then that they did not know the half of it.
Mater, who was sorry for my trouble, made the best of it; and I ate many an egg and many a piece of fish during my visit. In time the matter was happily amended and the conveyor belt of the pork economy rolled once more, much to the relief of all.
Still, it was akin to visiting China for an auspicious tea-ceremony and being informed that the tea supply has vanished into thin air.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 4:28 PM