A Phat Phather’s Day

seasoned porkAs I hurl towards the big 4 0 at the blistering speed of light I’m beginning to realize that I might be in the midst of a midlife crisis. I always found the notion of a midlife crisis to be a bullshit excuse for dudes to just act like assholes but I find myself all over the place emotionally, stressing and thinking about life from a whole new angle. It was in this state that I woke up in alone on Father’s Day.

My lady snuck the kids out of the house so that I could sleep in for a change. There won’t be a big Father’s Day BBQ this year since my lady is working, my old man is working and my father in-law is off fancying it up in Europe.This is normally a great occasion to celebrate another Pantless Fiesta but instead I find myself going through cookbooks and thinking about the father figures in my life. It’s strange, I’ve been a dad for nearly 8 years now but I still think of myself as more of a son. So as I’m sitting here thoughts of my dad, my Godfather (who’s been like an extra dad), and my father in-law are going through my mind. Then out of nowhere my mind shifts to the dad of one of my oldest and dearest friends: Mr. Dunne. All 4 of these guys played huge roles in who I’ve become  and for the most part I’m happy with who I am so I thought I’d use this food blog forum for the use of good instead of evil for once and pay hommage to them.

What the hell does this have to do with food? I don’t know really. My plan was to write about the meal I was gonna make today with my kids and this is where I ended up. BBQ and Father’s Day are a match made in heaven and whenever I’m feeling sad, lonely,  angry, stressed, down, melancholic, bloated,  excited, anxious, happy, sensitive or sentimental I like to BBQ. I’m feeling all of those things today so grilling time it is. I’m going with pork kabobs since it’s been a while since a skewed me some meat. Normally I’d share the recipe but today is not the day. Let’s get back to the dads.

My relationship with my dad has had its share of ups and downs no doubt. He hit the bottle pretty hard for a long time and that kept things interesting in the house to say the least. While it wasn’t always easy I had tremendous respect for his ability to still go to work and provide for us. In many ways he always put himself last. I remember him driving me back to Montreal in the middle of a family trip so that I could pitch in my little league championship game. He recently even let my kids paint his toenails which, if you know my gruff dad, is mindblowing. His greatest accomplishment though was quitting drinking 18 years ago almost to the day. I enjoy a few cold beers and I know how much I would hate to give that up so I know this has been the toughest thing he’s done. It’s saved our relationship and made me incredibly proud of him. Oh and he’s no slouch in the kitchen either. He’s the best liver cooker around.Thanks Dad.

about to grillMy godfather, Uncle Dan, never had kids of his own so he took every chance he could to spoil my sisters and I rotten. But more than that, and like his bro (my dad) he always put others before him. If my Dad worked late on Friday he would come over Saturday at 5h AM(!!) to walk with me to the arena in -20 for practice. This selfless family trait seems to have skipped me cause I don’t do much at 5h in frigid weather on the weekend. He carries on the family recipes of perogies and borscht that my Grandmother made and does a pretty good job at them too. Thanks Uncle Dan.

My father in-law, Jeffrey, took a chance on himself and moved here at a young age from the poor South American country of Suriname. A scary move to do on your own with little to your name. From there he built a great life for himself and his family. He is handy as hell with tools and helps me out more than I could ever have hoped. He is co-architect on what can only be called The Greatest Deck In the History of Existence out in my yard. He’s handy in the kitchen too and is the creator of the best damn hot sauce you’ll ever taste. And when my kids called him in a panic because they found a bird that looked to be in bad shape after a storm, and they know he loves birds, they said “Opa can you come save him?”. He drove straight over (my mother in-law was there too but this is about Father’s Day so wait your turn!) and was at my door before I could call him to say the bird managed to fly away. He was my daughters hero that day. Thanks Jeff.

Mr. Dunne, or Paddy, was a bear of man. He wasn’t the kind of man you wanted to see angry. But underneath that rough exterior and those mammoth hands was a kindness and compassion that was unrivalled. If you were welcomed in his home then you were family to him. When I found out that he had pancreatic cancer and the prognosis was not good it hit me much harder than I expected. It was then that I realized how much he did for me without asking for anything in return. Ok, well he made me work my ass off around his house with his son Emmet but he did always pay us. I think he knew that things were tough at home sometimes but he never said it. Instead he would teach me to ski or take me on family trips. One summer when he found out that I had never seen the ocean he told me “Well geez you’re coming with us then in July!” I had summer school though and told him I wouldn’t be able to go. The guy actually pushed the family trip back a week so I could make it. At the time I didn’t realize how much that one gesture meant to me. I’ve come to love travelling now and whenever I see the ocean I take a moment to think of him. He and his amazing wife made me part of the family and although I don’t see Emmet as much as I’d like, whenever I do (or any of his dozens and dozens of brothers and sisters) it’s like seeing family again. I wanted to tell him how much every little thing he did for me meant but I never mustered up the courage somehow. It’s weird how something like that would take courage but I guess that’s how we’re conditioned to be men or something. I don’t believe in living with regrets but that right there is one I’ll keep with me. Thanks Paddy-oh and thanks for showing me that roast beef should never be more than medium rare!

Well, what started out as a standard Father’s Day BBQ article has turned me into an emotional mess. But hey it’s all related. All of these men put family above everything else. Family dinners are of utmost importance to each of them and it’s come to mean a lot to me at home with my kids, even on the days they drive me mental. None of these guys commanded my respect but they all sure as hell earned it. As I struggle with whatever the hell this midlife thing is and the fears about my skills as a parent I feel like writing this has got me finally understanding a little of what it all means. No big celebration today. Just some kickass BBQ and a typical meal with the kids. In a lot of ways those are the best aren’t they?

Stay Phat.

pork kabobs



Categories: Phood Philosophies

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