The Ocean


Guests often email us questions about their trip before they arrive.  I responded to one such fellow from Dublin who replied “Oh with a name like that you must be Irish!”  I do have a real mick name, so I admitted to the guy “yeah, I’m Irish, my family comes from County Cork,” blah blah blah.  He had a few more questions and emails after that, was always excited to make his first trip to Chicago, and kept throwing in “we’re both Irish!” references like he couldn’t believe they were giving  filthy Irish sheepshaggers jobs over here in America.  But he wasn’t an ignorant, self-important asshole, like most of the emails I respond to, so I replied in kind.

I forget about it until yesterday when the guy checks in.  Introduces himself, and says he has something from “the homeland” for me when he gets back from dinner.  Great – I’m thinking it’s Paddy Whisky or a cable knit something or other.  I don’t see him before my shift ends, but my colleague says he went into the bar (insert Irishman in a bar joke here).  Sure enough he’s there cradling a pint of pish, and I tell him I’m off for the evening and he says “Oh great!  Come with me!  You’ve got to see what I’ve brought for you!”  I did have visions of him pulling out a hand grenade, or a teddy bear or something equally frightening, but I was prepared to run if need be.  He reaches into his jacket and pulls out a plastic bag with two store bought Clonakilty sausages – one blood pudding, one white pudding.

“Are you married?  Do you eat breakfast?  Do you know what this is?  You do?  This is sausage, blood sausage.  Have you had this?  You have?  Good.  Listen, you cut the stuff up into discs like this, and you fry it, and you cook an egg, and you have a proper – oh fook it’s so good!  I had the fookin stuff in my suitcase and I was afraid fookin customs would see it and think I had a fookin nook-yoo-ler bomb. Oh fuck!  This here is from Clonakilty, I think you said you come from Cork, yer family does, and this is made in Cork, so I brought it for you, and oh fook!”

Conakality Black

And he goes on.  And I love black pudding.  I haven’t had it in ages.  I can’t believe this guy went out of his way to go through the trouble of lugging two fucking sausages across the fucking world to a schmuck like me just because I told him not to take the airport shuttle and where to get a good steak.  I thank him profusely, and went straight to the store for butter and eggs for breakfast.  This morning I’m up at the crack of 11.30 and into the pan go the soft, coarse sausage discs; suet, fat, and various other animal products sizzling and popping.  Oh man, I forgot how good this stuff tastes.  Upon swallowing the first bite I envisioned myself cooking it for dinner too.  That good.  And I couldn’t get over the fact that a complete stranger would be thoughtful enough to make it all possible.

So I wolfed down half the black pudding, and maybe a quarter of the white pudding along with scrambled eggs and a piece of toast i made by sticking it in the pan with the pudding and letting it sop of the greasy goodness.  Fast forward about 5 hours, and, well….let me just put it this way – ever take a dump that smells like the Jersey shore?  Like you pooped out horseshoe crabs, rotting seaweed, and part of the Atlantic Ocean?  That’s when I started thinking about sausage, and how I usually see it in a refrigerator, and it’s probably not good for sausage to travel 3,000 miles in suitcases, which generally provide little to no refrigeration.  And then I started thinking how much fat goes into blood sausage, which surely must preserve it, even for transatlantic voyages.  And then my stomach exploded again, and I went into a trance where all I could see was this guy pulling sausage out of his jacket and the smell of polluted ocean with a hint of sweaty gym.

So I guess the lesson here is for me not to be so nice to guests.  I guess.


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