My Sisters Cook: “Pork”

Theron Hopkins | Local Columnist

Let us undertake a journey back in time—about seven weeks’ worth—to when Hurricane Irma menaced the southerly Atlantic Seaboard. This storm was a scourge to homes and businesses, and to the tourists who were hoping to get a final stretch of beach-time in before school began and work resumed back in their towns and cities where the ocean is something to be dreamed about, rather than viewed through the plate-glass window of a rented condominium or from beneath the shade of a Cabana Boy’s pop-up tent with sand between their toes and an ice chest at their elbows. In the days that the storm approached landfall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, things got real quiet: The tourists packed up their SUVs to head home and to think, “Maybe better luck next Summer”; the denizens of beach communities buttressed their oceanfront homes against the worst that their imaginations could allow them to concoct, and then migrated inland to seek shelter; businesses shuttered their windows and, with the high hopes that they would still be standing after the storm passed, hung out their “Closed” shingles; and people with houses further inland—beyond the reach of even the most ambitious of storm surges—supplied their larders with food and drink and batteries and candles, and got ready to “hunker down” and “ride things out” in the relative comfort of home sweet home. Two of those people who shuttered a business and who reside a couple of buffered miles from the coastline are my sister, Tricia, and her husband, Mike. Certainly, they harbored concerns about “safety” and “community” and “what will this do to our business that is singularly reliant on people showing up year after year to ‘soak up the sun.’” But they also thought, “Hey, we haven’t had an actual day—much less ‘days’—off since the college students showed up for Spring Break in March. How bad could this be?” And then they thought about the big thing, which is, “What are we going to cook?” A visit to the Food Lion on Saturday evening dissolved that conundrum, as Tricia happened across a 12-pound pork picnic shoulder with a nine dollar price tag (you do the math) and began to hatch her plan for Sunday dinner, which included her “Famous Rub” (or whatever looked appealing on the spice shelf at home), consisting of four parts salt and equal measures of one part smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chipotle powder, black pepper, and turmeric, and that was applied liberally to the knife-scored pork shoulder before being tucked away overnight in the refrigerator. Sunday at noon the pork went into a 250 degree oven before Tricia and Mike joined friends at their tavern that they had found a way and a reason to open, even as the storm promised to make land that evening. What was the “way”? “Routine” and “Pure Willpower” is the guess here. What was the reason? Three words: The Detroit Lions. That is right: Mike, from Detroit, Michigan, has actually discovered fellow Michigan transplants and Lions fans Mike and Allison, who operate a bar in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Serendipity. After three quarters of winning Lions football, it was time to decamp and to transfer the pork from the oven to the barbeque—indirect charcoal heat—for four more hours, until the shoulder blade came “clean” out of the meat, and the meat got pulled apart for tacos on soft corn tortillas, with cilantro, chopped white onion, a little jack cheese, and a pepper-vinegar sauce. They were at home, remember, so it was as many of these tacos as a person might want to enjoy, and then it was time to sit on the couch with the living room curtains open and wait for the storm to come.

Next Week: Beth cooks “Pork”…

The Williams Pioneer Review has a small staff of one, covering all of Colusa County; but we’re proud to have the assistance of a large army of community contributors to extend our range and reach. This is one of those stories. If you have a story you would like to share, please email them to: or give us a call.