Pig Roaster


What did you do on the Fourth of July? Go to a BBQ? Go to the beach? Go to a fireworks show? All of the above?

Nettie and I went to friend’s house for a roasted pig feast, featuring the La Caja roasting box. The roasted pig was just one item in a veritable cornucopia of foods from all over the world.

If you came to this party and the idea of a roasted pig was repugnant to you, no problem. There was a delicious spread of smoked chicken. If chicken was not your thing, there was smoked salmon.

If you were a strict vegan, no worries, there were many vegan dishes from a widely assorted group of pot-luck contributors. There were Japanese noodles with delicately scented vegies, glazed eggplant, pickled lotus root, and even the rather common, but always crowd pleasing, guacamole, which Nettie and I brought.



This was an elegantly abundant display of food. There was everything from ceviche to star-spangled cupcakes. I didn’t take very good pictures of the food, and I feel bad about that because the table was amazingly eclectic. It looked something like this shot I grabbed off the web, but far better.

I picked up a plate and wended my way through the exciting dishes. I’m an omnivore so I had a taste of everything. The roasted pork was out of this world. I barely got to my seat before I’d finished off the crispy crackling, a phrase I know is redundant.

I sat down, refilled my wine glass and looked around the long table as other guests came in from the buffet area with their plates similarly festooned with today’s offerings.

It struck me then that the guests, about fifty in total, were as diverse as the food itself. It was a wonderful group from all over the world. The people at my table were from Israel, from India, from Japan (the heritage of the hostess of the party), from China, and Africa, and Canada. The polyglot of languages spoken within my hearing was invigorating to listen to, and it informed the purpose of the day…our communal celebration of freedom.

This is what Independence Day is all about. Breaking away from the bonds of the past and forming of a new country made up of immigrants from all over the planet.

At first, we were the English. (Of course, we weren’t the first, the Native Americans were, but that’s a big topic for another blog as is the issue of slavery and African Americans, who did as much as any group to build this nation and finally win their own independence.)



The nation quickly swelled with the Irish and French and the Dutch and German immigrants, and then came the Italians and Swiss, the Poles and Czechs and Hungarians and Armenians, the Norwegians and Finns and Greeks and all the other varieties that fled across the pond.

Nettie’s family is Russian and German and came to this country in the 19th century. I’m a late arrival, myself, an English immigrant who came in the post WWII deluge of refugees from devastated Europe. I traveled by boat across the ocean, one a little bit bigger than the Mayflower.



Our ship was the Queen Elizabeth and I remember the tugs tugging us into New York Harbor early on an August morning in 1956. I stood on the decks with hundreds of others cheering as the Statue of Liberty burned above us. I am an American Citizen now, but a British Subject as well. I carry two Passports.



I wandered from my table to a table in the front of the house. I looked at the guests deep in conversation or joke telling or flirting or political discussions. Some have been here for years, raised their children here. Some have newly arrived for the purpose of work, for school, for who knows what. But they are here.



This is America I thought to myself. They are us. This talking. This laughter. This friendship. This vivid experience forming one from the many…E Pluribus Unum.

How fortunate are we I almost said out loud, fortunate to watch fireworks from a rooftop, then to bid one another adieu and look forward to another day of freedom while so many around the world cling tightly to a hope that’s sorely tattered while the dreams of others have already burned to ash.

So how fortunate are we? Well, at the risk of sounding jingoistic, pretty damn fortunate indeed. I raise my glass in a toast to the United Immigrants of America!






3 Responses to E Pluribus Unum

  1. Frank Z says:

    Sounds like an incredible time!! Great way to spend the fourth!

    – Cynthia Maxwell

  2. Frank Z says:

    Nice ! Sounds Delish !

    – Brian Russo

  3. Elyce Wakerman says:

    I only wish we would become more “united.” But we are indeed a nation of immigrants – that is what America really means – and your essay is a wonderful tribute to that fact. Work on the “united” part continues. It ain’t easy, but hopefully, we’ll get there.

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