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A heart healthy activity involving livestock

Here’s a recipe that’s guaranteed to lower bad cholesterol, clear clogged arteries, defog brain cells and stimulate the organs of reproduction – even if you’ve had them surgically or chemically rendered useless.

I can make these ridiculous claims because, much like diet experts on TV and in books, I have no medical license for the government to suspend and no cash to pay any fines, mostly because I’ve already bought beer with the pitiful sum I’m paid to churn out these revelations.

I call this dish Trotting After Trotters, for reasons that will shortly become obvious.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

a bushel of potatoes

a peck of clams

a murder of crows

a gulp of cormorants (yes, that’s what it’s called)

an invasion of cockroaches (ditto)

a flagon of ale

a gallon of granola

a parcel of paprika

another flagon, lager this time

a measure of marjoram

a single bay leaf, slightly forlorn

a doublet of doubt

a lifetime of regret

salt and pepper to taste

oh, yes, and one large pig, alive and annoyed

Peel the potatoes and cut into pieces that resemble Paul LePage’s jowls. Dump them (the potatoes, not the jowls) in a large cauldron half filled with tepid water – unless you’re on a diet, in which case you should substitute tofu (for the potatoes, not the water). Although that’s just disgusting, so screw the diet and stick with the spuds. Make ’em french fries, even.

Shell the clams and add to the pot. Set the shells aside for later use. Murder the crows, de-feather and gut them, while removing the feet and beaks. Set the latter items aside, as well. Prepare the cormorants in the same fashion. Throw the bird bodies and all the other ingredients, except the pig, in the cauldron and bring the whole mess to a rolling boil. Stir vigorously as if you were trying out for the role of a witch in the local amateur theater’s production of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Continue until you are notified the part is yours or until the mixture achieves the viscosity of a sugary convenience store beverage promoted by an aging ex-“Baywatch” star.

While the stock is cooling, release the pig. Encourage the beast to take flight (not literally, unless there’s some chance the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series this year) by pelting it with clam shells and birds’ feet and beaks. Once the porker lights out, pursue it as if your future happiness depended upon its recapture. Don’t be dissuaded by no-trespassing signs, barbed-wire fences, attack dogs or armed property owners dressed in designer camo.

Continue in this manner until you either tackle the pig or collapse. If the former, return to where the cauldron has been settling and allow the pig to drink its fill of the restorative broth. Then, release it again and pursue as before. Continue until either you or the pig develops the physique and constitution of an Olympic athlete.

If, however, you fail in your quest to recover the swift swine, persevere. The race belongs not to the porcine, but to the stubborn. Return periodically to the cauldron for reviving draughts of its contents, followed by bouts of retching, during which you may reflect on the advisability of having included the cormorants and cockroaches. Also, the broth could perhaps benefit from another bay leaf. After all, there’s no shame in tinkering with the recipe. It wasn’t handed down from above on stone tablets. You don’t think that a famous chef such as Edward Lee of the 610 Magnolia restaurant in Louisville, Ky., hit it dead center the first time he tried to make his signature dish – black BBQ beef short ribs with pickled tongue, cilantro pudding and edamame hummus – do you? I’m almost sure the first batch had too much tongue and was a little light on the edamame, whatever that might be. But experimentation is the heart (note how I return, somewhat belatedly, to the theme of this issue) of culinary excellence (note how I have once again, to the editor’s dismay, wandered off track).

By now, you should be looking considerably more svelte, both from exercise and vomiting. But the important thing isn’t how you look, it’s the improved health of the organ this issue is supposed to be dedicated to. Pancreas? Knee cap? Whatever. Also, you can now eat the pig with a clear conscience, since it’s got to be pretty lean, too, what with all that running and throwing up.

Al Diamon writes the weekly column Politics & Other Mistakes for several Maine newspapers and websites. He’s also the media critic for The Bollard magazine. Rumors that he’s planning to open a restaurant called Mystery Meat are almost certainly false. He can be emailed at aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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