Christmas horror

THIS TALE OF terror is true. It was posted by me almost a decade ago on another edge of Mexican cyberspace.

But due to the passage of time, plus the fact that the audience has changed — new people have come in, and others have stormed out — I feel justified in repeating this Christmas grotesquerie.

We were newly arrived here at the Hacienda. If memory serves, it was our first holiday in the new home. We put up a huge Yuletide tree and invited a horde of Mexican relatives, which is the only kind of relative I have now, which saddens me deeply, but that’s another story.

A brother-in-law whom I dubbed the Eggman in those distant days (yet another unrelated yarn) was in charge of the festive meal. Mexicans do their Yuletide dining late on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas Day.

Due to the many people on the guest list, the Eggman purchased an entire sheep and ordered it catered and cooked.

headThis main dish arrived on the afternoon of the 24th. It looked like a brown meaty stew in a massive tub, and it required two people to tote it into the kitchen, placing it on the floor.

Flash forward a few hours, to 10 p.m. or so, music was playing, people were eating here, there, everywhere, because there were more folks than suitable seating.

I had ladled one serving of the stew into a bowl, and found it tasty. It went down nicely with Coca-Cola.

Returning to the  kitchen, bowl in hand, I bent down to the tub and submerged the ladle. At that moment, he rose to the surface from the murky depths. The sheep’s entire head, its dead eyes staring me squarely in the face.

I froze in place, dropped the ladle, turned quickly and decided I had eaten enough for one Holy Night.

31 thoughts on “Christmas horror”

      1. I’d like to do that every time Joe eats menudo. It’s hard to pull off in the local Tex Mex joints, though 🙂

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  1. If a sheep’s head in the stew is the worst you’ve encountered, you haven’t lived in Mexico long enough. As in spinal cord, panza, intestines, eyeballs, and udder. You’ve inspired me to write now about my Christmas horror story, which involved kissing baby Jesus. BTW, the cheeks (of a lamb’s head, not Jesus), aren’t too bad.

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    1. The cheeks of a steer’s head aren’t too bad either! Very tender and tasty, but to have the whole head pop up in the stew would have been too much for me too, Felipe!

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    2. Ms. Shoes: When these dreadful foodstuffs are seen on the street or on a menu I have only to avert my eyes and pretend they do not exist. But on the Christmas night in question, the beast came up at me from a brown, murky sea and caught me totally unprepared. I am scarred to this day.

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  2. Thanks for telling that one again, Felipe. It had me rolling on the floor laughing, and you know why. I’ve been through just about the same exact thing with my wife’s family. When it comes to food it is best just to eat it and not view the source in Mexico. Thanks for brightening my morning!

    Mike

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  3. Just goes to reinforce how spoiled Americans are. They only eat the “prime” cuts of the animal. Most societies celebrate the sacrifice or offering of the animal and consider it sacrilegious to waste most of the animal. If prepared correctly, items like eyeballs are delicacies in many cultures, and are cherished and offered from the host to the guest.

    More and more NOB restaurants are finally preparing dishes from offal, and are slowly changing the bad habits of the Americans to accept and enjoy them. This is very hard for someone who was raised on steak and potatoes to accept anything other than that of a hamburger, meatloaf or chicken-fried steak.

    Just two weeks ago, I had a great dinner of beef cheeks. It was one of the better meals I have had in years. I can certainly understand your surprise especially when you were not expecting it. I guess it was better than something else that could have fallen into the cauldron, like a family member or pet.

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    1. Señor Gill: The Eggman was a brother-in-law, a disreputable sort who killed himself accidentally with a .22-caliber pistol a couple of years after my sister-in-law tossed him out on his duff.

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    1. Andean: Though I have a Mexican passport, I remain resolutely Gringo in most aspects. And it will always be so, I imagine, especially when it comes to the heads of deceased sheep swimming in murky brown gravy.

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      1. Does a passport really have anything to do with what we eat? I live in the U.S. though I was not born here. And have traveled to Mexico often. Well you know…

        The best soups are made with various parts of an animal. I mention sopa because really I still don’t like to see fish eyes on my plate.

        Here, I have been to bbq’s in the past, where whole pigs and lambs are roasted in a ground pit … a melting pot … It’s not as unusual as people may think.

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        1. Andean: Mentioning my passport was just a way of saying I am a Mexican citizen, which is more than most Gringos down here can say, or ever will say. But, in spite of that, I am resolutely American. I make no effort to assimilate. I did at first, but then gave up on it because it ran against my nature.

          As far as food is concerned, I am quite conservative. No eyes, no lips, no balls, none of that sort of yucky stuff.

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  4. You made me laugh twice — with the story itself and your subsequent use of the word “dreadful.” I saw you turn into Maggie Smith right before my eyes. And that requires a bit of literary legerdemain. On one of my visits to your fair village, I must tell you about my first Easter dinner in Greece — or my first Christmas meal in a Greek cottage. Mexico has added several similar tales to the culinary chapter of my life. If it can be cooked, I will put it in my mouth. At least, once.

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    1. Señor Cotton: If I have entertained you, I am glad. And laughing twice is preferable to once. As for eating, I am not very adventuresome. I leave that to people like my wife and you.

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  5. I can imagine the look on your face when this happened. Talk about an “eye opener.” When I was eight years old the folks at a foster home I lived in slaughtered a lamb which I regretfully, to this day, witnessed. The smell and sight was something I wish I had never seen. Some offal should never be eaten. Brains, spinal chord, etc. are known carriers of prions that cause B.S.E.

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    1. Francisco: I had to look up both prion and B.S.E., so you have elevated my knowledge base.

      When I was a tyke, I vaguely recall a pig getting slaughtered on my grandparents’ farm in Georgia. Thankfully, I have blotted it out. As for the look on my face when the sheep’s head rose to the surface, only the Goddess knows. I can tell you that I was quite appalled. Needless to say, I ate no more stew.

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  6. My Icelandic sister-in-law always serves smoked lamb and sheep’s brain for Christmas and I’ve been to many Filipino parties where an entire roast pig was the guest of honor. American food tastes are quite tame.

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    1. Andrés: My mother, in middle age, was quite fond of brain, but she wouldn’t touch it when she got old. And I can be in the company of a roast pig easily, I imagine, but the sheep’s head coming up right at me from the deep gravy was something else, like the Creature from the Black Lagoon it was.

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  7. Heads up! Suppertime!!! LOL…

    As you know, I’ve been a *VERY* longtime reader, but don’t recall this tale. But I enjoyed it immensely.

    Jeeze…if you had a whole sheep at your disposal, why wouldn’t you make something more interesting than soup? Soup could have been made from the scraps. And, of course, the head, which probably isn’t good for anything else. Aside from freaking out gringos, of course.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’ve decided it’s culturally insensitive of others to urge us to eat such things.

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