Additional Chapter: With Pig-san!
Whimsy Additional Chapter
Today I am making ham with father-in-law.
“We will be making cured ham now. It’s not smoked.”
Unlike normal ham, non-smoked ham, called cured ham, is made without heating, that it can be stored for about three years. Unlike normal ham, it’s moist and has a deep flavour, that the melting flavour becomes unforgettable, according to father-in-law.
We will be using thigh meat. It seems that the meat was from one brought over from the ranch, and was meat that was not matured yet.
In addition, the pig was apparently a special one.
“This is a pig raised by feeding it whey.”
The whey created from cheese has many nutrients, and that carries over to the meat. In addition, it seemed like meat from pigs less than a year old were used for making cured ham.
“Since maturing is also included in the process, fresh meat less than three days old are better.”
To get rid of the blood, the meat is placed in salt water and left in a cool place.
After removing the blood is done, it is rinsed again with clean water to remove the salt, then salt is added again then the meat is left for a day this time.
Next we are making pickling liquid. With this, the ham’s flavour becomes rich, and the ham can be stored for long periods.
The ingredients for the pickling liquid involve many kinds of spices, berries, salt, molasses, nitrates, water and beer. In a pot, water and three kinds of barley are added. The dried leaves, the spice, are tied and added in the middle of the process. The fine powders are wrapped in a cloth then added. Once the water started bubbling, then the other ingredients are added.
Once it’s boiled for a bit, the fire is put out and it’s left to cool for a while. The solid clotted things in the pot are sifted out and only the liquid is left.
The finished pickling liquid is then put into a large jar. There, the pork is put in after removing the salt, then left from half a month to a month in a cool place. Depending on the temperature, the pickling liquid may be spoiled, so I was told to check on it at least once a day.
Once the meat is pickled, it is taken out and hung up in the air for it to dry for two to three days.
However, this wasn’t the end.
It’s possible to eat as it is after drying, but for long-term storage more work is needed.
“On the cut surface, paste a mixture of flour, salt and water.”
With this process, the flavour of the meat improves.
“Well, it does take some time, but making cured ham is very simple. However, it may smell bad if one becomes careless.”
During the process of making ham, there was a nice ham smell. Father-in-law told me to keep that state.
Then, from the cured ham storage, father-in-law brought out a lump of ham as if he was carrying a baby.
“Father-in-law, that is!?”
“Three-year-old cured ham.”
It is said that cured ham is matured from half a year to a year. However, three-year-old ones are considered rare luxuries.
I will eating such a ham with father-in-law.
With a knife, he carved out a thin slice.
The well-matured ham had white fat rising, maybe because it was exposed to higher temperature.
I put in the ham dripping with fat into my mouth.
The meaty flavour hidden in the ham was condensed along with adequate salt and spices, spoiling my tongue. The moment I thought that, it melted away. It only took a moment.
“This is extremely delicious!”
We started talking about the ranch so many times.
Meanwhile, he kept giving me pieces of ham that I felt like a dog but I could not stop myself because of the taste.
“Oh, father-in-law, the precious ham is disappearing.”
“Don’t worry about it. It can’t be preserved for too long after it’s cut.”
Aa, I want to be a child of this house. How happy it would be to work at the ranch with father-in-law.
However, Sieg wanted to go the remote village so I can’t help it. In addition, I was worried about my parents.
“Come to think of it.”
“Today Sieg will be socialising.”
We were invited to the tea party.
In panic, we returned to prepare.
First I bathed, then changed into neat foreign style clothes and did my hair. When I did that, Sieg came in the room.
I ran over to Sieg who was by the door and supported her.
The child in the belly grew quite big now. It looked like she was having trouble even walking, but mother-in-law told me to not be overprotective. Thinking that it would be okay when no one else is looking, I ended up spoiling her.
“Are you alright?”
“Aa, don’t worry about me.”
In retrospect, I felt relieved that I decided to make her give birth where she’s close to a hospital. The village women will help out, but doctors are the most reliable when something happens. It’s the first birth, so I can’t help but feel agitated.
“What should we do about the name?”
“We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl yet.”
Grandfather was also looking forward to seeing the child, and came over often.
“A letter came yesterday, that grandfather is coming again.”
At his last visit, we had a sheep festival. Though I say festival, it was just grilling mutton in the garden, but nevertheless the party heated up.
“Why don’t we let grandfather-in-law decide on the name.”
“Aa, good idea.”
Thus, we decided to ask grandfather for the name of our first child.
We then went to the tea party hosted by mother-in-law.
Here, I was told to act like a stoic foreigner. I have the embarrassing title of ‘the Yeti of the Borderlands’ so it was tactic to erase that reputation.
“My, what a strange hair colour. And what pretty eyes.
I was surrounded by mother-in-law and ladies in her age group. So I made an amiable smile. I thought that it might be hard to not speak out too much, but that was an undue worry.
Because I had to continue listening at the tea party.
“Then, it became such a hassle!”
I spent leisurely time with Sieg, just listening to the ladies talk. When I sometimes served some handmade confectionery, they praised me that it was nice for a man to know how to cook.
“My husband’s hobby is only horse-riding and hunting. Not very interesting.”
“I would be able to spend more time together if his hobby was baking, really.”
“I’m envious of you, Sieglinde-san.”
I did my best to not tarnish my reputation further, every day. Mother-in-law too did her best to improve my reputation, doing many things.
After everything ended, the nighttime was the only time we could relax.
“Are you tired from dealing with all those ladies?”
“Yes, it’s an impossible task.”
When I said that, Sieg smiled.
Without a warning, I grabbed her hand and kissed her fingers.
Then I brushed back her hair, and caressed her cheek. Sieg’s expression softened, and she closed her grey eyes.
Even though I love her, I can’t burden Sieg too much.
“Sieg, I love you.”
So, I just whispered words of love into her ears.
Like so, our life in this foreign land continued.