The Vegetarian and The Pig

"Teresa esta aqui?" A man yells to me from behind the front gate. He's wearing a delivery uniform.

Uh, si...o no. Ella vive aqui pero...(I can't think of the word and he's looking at me funny). Ella esta trabajando?

He sees that I'm not a native Spanish speaker.

"Tengo una caja para ella," he says and motions something with his hands.

I can't remember what "caja" means. Card? Highway? Jesus Christ how could this stranger have a highway for my aunt?

Uh, I'll sign that if you want?

He hands me a box --ah, caja!-- that I can hardly lift and I sign at the X. Of course at this point I realize there could be anything in the caja.

"Gracias senorita," he says before getting back into a truck with strange green letters I can't make out.

Inside I put the heavy box and the paper I just signed on the couch. It sits and waits --I wait-- for someone to come home and open the thing. I half expect my uncle to see it and sigh with relief, "Ahah! The rifle has arrived."

He gets home after buying a baguette and is impressed. "It's here," he says with a smile on his face.

We open it together, a bottle of brandy, a bottle of whiskey, two bottles of wine...and then the moment we've all been waiting for: a giant pig's thigh. Proscuitto.

It's a gift from a company my aunt has worked with --pig being a customary show of appreciation in Spain. He estimates that this particular piece is worth 200-300 euros so maybe $450. That's a whopper.

In Canada my mail consists almost entirely of boring bills and incoherent rants from Quebec hydro that I never understand. Today I felt a bit like Tony Soprano, accepting pieces of a carcass encased in a beautifully carved wooden box while sipping my morning coffee.

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