Indian Slummer


The Indians had cooked meat under the stones for us, which I found horrible, smelling and tasting of smoke. — Life in Mexico (Nov. 3. 1840), by Frances Calderón de la Barca.

I’m sorry, Mme. Calderón,
That somehow you could not have known
Just what it was those Indians were doing,
For they were years before their time
And, though obscured by soot and grime,
Quite obviously they were barbecuing;
To get one’s meat to taste of smoke
And smell, too, is a master stroke,
A coup that you should not have taken lightly;
For many summers I confess,
As do my friends, without success
I’ve tried to do the same thing almost nightly;
For hours atop the ribs I drip
A sauce mosquitoes love to sip
And which my slapping guests all call delightful
(Because, I heard one lad repeat,
It kills the flavor of the meat);
Then when they’ve gone the clean-up chores are frightful;
But now I’ve junked my fancy pit
That you’ve exposed as counterfeit,
Hot rocks are on the terrace in position,
And when sweet smoke enshrouds my guests
And scatters all the wingèd pests
I’m sure you’ll rate a Pocket Book edition.