Dad worked every Saturday. Sometimes it was half a day; others it was until 4pm. But every Saturday he would come home with a bundle under his arm. He went to the meat market to get something to cook on Sunday, but he also always had the same two items: ground meat for hamburgers that night and a couple of pounds of calf brains.
I’d watch him grind up crackers and add them to the ground meat along with an egg or two and lots of his own seasoning. Then he’d form the burgers and put them in the fridge for later.
After that he would season the brains and dredge them in cornmeal then drop them into the hot oil for a quick fry. He would bring the plate with the fried brains on napkins to the table, and we would watch “pro” wrestling on Channel 10. Dad would call it rasslin’ like a lot of people did.
He was a pro at watching, too. He would tell me who was going to win that round before they even got in the ring. And usually he was right. I’d wonder how he knew as I’d fork down another mouthful of brains. I thought maybe he had insider information, but it was pure intuition knowing how the script was supposed to go.
When rasslin’ was over it was time for Lawrence Welk, and that’s when Dad got busy cooking the burgers. They were usually baked in the oven, and the tray was pretty full.
There were eight mouths to feed, and a few of those mouths were pretty big and could suck down two burgers each even after a pound of brains. By the way, Mom never partook in the brains. In fact, she was never in the room when rasslin’ was on.
The burgers were ready by the time The Jackie Gleason Show came on straight from Miami Beach with Sammy Spears and his orchestra.
Years later I got my driver’s license at 15. Then every Saturday I had to wake up early to bring my Dad to work so I could have the car to drive Mom on errands.. I was rewarded with biscuits and coffee at his favorite cafe on Second Street.
I would pick him up in the afternoon and make our usual detour to Boo Ledoux’s Meat Market to pick up the grub for the rest of the weekend. I never paid much attention before, but for some reason I this one Saturday.
I watched as the butcher cut up the chickens as Dad instructed. Then I saw him scoop the ground beef from the case. And then Dad asked for a couple of pounds of brains, and I saw the butcher move over to another case and scoop up what looked to me like real brains.
I laughed a little and then started to tell Dad “Well, now I know why they called them brains because they look just like…” And then I stopped cold. Suddenly, the synapses connected, and I realized that all these years I was really eating brains!
I may have been fooling myself thinking that it was a nickname for something else. But there was no other way to disguise it at this point.
That afternoon was the first time I watched rasslin’ without eating. I told him I wasn’t hungry. The Saturday before was the last time I’ve ever eaten calf brains.
Do I miss it? I miss more watching rasslin’ with my Dad, even though he knew the outcome of every match.
There are not a lot of things Dad and I used to do together. But I’d eat another plate of brains if we could watch rasslin’ together one more time. I have so much to share.
Categories: What was I thinking?