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Look, we know what you’re thinking: This is by far one of our worst pun-based ideas. But Greg gets real pissy if we don’t let him just go to town roasting something, both literally and figuratively, every thirty days or so. And so we present: an extremely relevant and on-time review of HAM.
This was supposed to run slightly before Easter, but Warhammer Community are cowards and delayed Meta Watch, which is what dictates my schedule, so blame them. Don’t blame me, though, I’m the internet’s perfect boy. I wasn’t going to throw away a perfectly “good” column so let’s reheat these leftovers and get to it.
We’re currently heading into (EDIT: by now, we are well out from) the second Easter in lockdown. In between was a year – or as close as the church’s wild idea of scheduling allows – of wasted time. Not that I wasted it. I still did things where and how I could. It was wasted for me. A year that’s gone, and isn’t coming back. You only get so many of these, and this is one that’s been taken away by disease and by an incompetent, uncaring, response to a public health crisis. I can’t get mad at the former, but I will die angry about the second. Look to Australia, or Vietnam, and see what – and who – was taken from you. Never let them forget it.
But it’s a season of rebirth, Spring, and so I have a bird now. Two birds, actually. They aren’t technically mine, just a couple of what we think are Mourning Doves that built their nest over the transom on our back door (UPDATE: the birds’ nest fell off the door and broke apart, and they haven’t come back since. This bums me out way more than I would have expected – partially because it ruins the metaphor I was going for here, but mostly because it was Mourning Doves. I think it’d be easier to think about this if some dickhead ornithologist hadn’t named the birds in a way that implies they can feel grief). Given that the only wildlife I usually see around here are huge rats, it’s refreshing to look outside and see a bird. The cats are losing their minds (not anymore! Fuck you, gravity!).
It’s a rebirth doubly so, because I’m halfway vaccinated and the clock is ticking (and has ticked down further since I wrote this weeks ago) on when I can safely re-enter the wider world. I hope people are getting theirs, or at least not getting crushing FOMO about not getting it. Trust the process, or at least the capriciousness of it – I still don’t know how I got in, so I have to assume that everyone else can get one randomly, weeks before they become officially eligible. It’s an incredibly strange feeling, knowing that this slow-motion tragedy is not over for the world – not by a long shot, while there’s still wide community spread and incredible suffering – but that it’s soon to be, if not over, then at least entering a new phase, for me personally. I’m not sure if I should bless my good luck (I managed to get a vaccine before I ever had to take a Covid test, and only a handful of people I directly know online or in meatspace got sick) or feel a kind of survivor’s guilt here. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved when that appointment scheduling email came through, but it’s certainly alloyed with some other, less positive, feelings.
If this time last year was the start of bad things, as it sunk in that we were in for the long haul, now it’s something of a turning point toward normalcy (which, to be clear, was still Not Great). Spare a moment for all the things that have come and gone. Someone pointed out last spring that all of Westworld season 3 had aired during lockdown, which is a milestone that seems almost quaint to note, since it happened at what was, in retrospect, less than a third of the way through. Hell, all of ninth edition 40k has happened during the pandemic; there has never been a “normal” GT or super-major this edition. There might not be one again for a while. All the normal life events, just blips in the pattern of the same day endlessly repeating itself. No cookouts during grilling season. No farm visits during decorative gourd season. Limited access to PSLs. I went an entire winter without having to put on a heavy coat, and on the rare occasions that I wear shoes it’s casual slip-ons for driving between curbside pickups. If I had a garage and didn’t have to walk outside to get to the car, I’d just wear slippers everywhere.
Somehow the first thing I’ve gotten hype about this year was Godzilla vs Kong, which is extremely loud and dumb, but rules, and my god it’s just nice to enjoy dumb bullshit again, to have the dial turned down on gestures wildly all of this enough to relax a little. Some of this was no doubt driven by the fact that I watched it the night before getting my first vaccine, but it’s also just great to watch a gorilla punch a dinosaur’s lights out. I don’t want to undersell the movie: it rocks, and would always have rocked, regardless of context.
To take this back to our nominal topic, I don’t normally think too much about Easter. You don’t even get a day off work, which is the surest sign that American popular culture considers it a second-tier holiday. It’s on the level of the White People Cultural Appropriation Days (eg, St Paddy’s, Cinco de Mayo), which were also ruined last year.
But reader, I do love a good chunk of pig.
Here we’re going to compare the two platonic ideas of ham. Honey Baked ham, from a colossal hog meat slicing consortium that owns a bunch of cool knives, against Rum Ham, the product of insane dirtbags. (Look, I realize this isn’t the most timely Meat Watch we’ve ever run, but I’m pretty sure you can still buy hams. You can eat it any time of year, don’t let Big Grocery Store tell you what to eat or when to eat it.)
The recipe for a Honey Baked Ham is easy:
- Call the Ham Store and order precisely 1 (one) ham.
- Pick up ham and take it home.
Rum Ham is more of a DIY pinterest listicle help me lifehack I’m trapped online weird tip. I’m not complete scum, so instead of using a hypodermic needle to inject rum directly into the ham, it goes on the outside. I also don’t measure things, as a general rule, but the gist is:
- Start with any size ham. If it’s not sliced, go ahead and slice it a little bit. It can have bones or not.
- Put a container on the stove over medium-low heat.
- Melt some butter in the pot. A whole stick is about right.
- Pour in some rum. I don’t know how much. A dark rum is better here.
- Pineapple juice! Or crushed pineapple, whatever you have. Not too much.
- Stir in some brown sugar until it gets gooey.
- Let that reduce down for a spell.
While it’s doing that, grab another handful of brown sugar and start smooshing it all over your ham. When you’re satisfied and/or can’t see ham under the layer of sugar, pour some of the sauce on and put the thing in the oven at, I don’t know, probably 350? Every 10 or 15 minutes, go ahead and spoon more goo on, trying to get it down between the slices if you can.
After an hour or two, take it out. You can now enjoy your Rum Ham, or you can wait, and eat it cold on a sandwich. It’s good as hell either way. If you’re worried about cooking with booze, due to whatever Reasons: that mess all cooks off.
If you want to punch it up subsequent notches, my wife is a big fan of Ham Sauce, which I personally think is vile. She insists on having it, so I make it: for whatever else, I’m a humongous Wife Guy. It’s cheap yellow mustard, with enough brown sugar (there is a trend here) to turn it a sickly shade of brown. I like all (both) of the constituent ingredients, so I’m not sure why I hate this sauce so much. I think it’s the color, but it could be the Midwestern-ass vibes it has.
Who can say which is the superior method. One is much easier, only slightly more expensive, and usually tastes better, but the other leaves you most of a bottle of rum to play around in. So it could go either way, really.
Anyway, even if you don’t celebrate anything and get no days off work, this is (was) as good a chance as any to make (have made) a ham. Marking occasions and finding ways to note the passage of time is real hard lately, so take what you can get and try to wait out what should be the last months of locking down. We’re circling the airport waiting to land, which is always the most aggravating part of the flight, and seems to take the longest, but will be on the ground soon. I’ll see you all six (update: four) weeks from now, when I’m not a fuckin’ biohazard.
Thanks for sticking around, and making this column what it is: a little-read corner of this website that exists solely for me to waste your time and get yelled at. If you have questions or comments, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, or right here in the comments. We are here to help.