Labor Day Weekend is at hand, which means my favorite annual event – Pigout in the Park – is once again in full swing.
And I’m not saying this just because my band plays there.
Well, OK, that helps a little.
But having so much music and yummy vittles on one grassy venue, namely Riverfront Park, is more fun than an all-marmot rodeo.
I even like the unpretentious name – Pigout in the Park.
There’s no chichi affectation to it, unlike Seattle’s annual snobfest: “Take a Discreet Nibble Out of Something Free Trade and Organic.”
Pigout in the Park is an honest reflection of my Spokane-bred feeding inclinations.
But one thing I have noticed year after year is that many who attend this event are unaware that there are a few basic rules of Pig-etiquette.
For example …
Q. Is it permissible to lick fingers while enjoying a plate of deep-fried lasagna?
A. Absolutely. Although you’d be wise to ask permission from that stranger before any licking begins.
In that spirit, here are my Top 9 Rules for proper Pigout comportment.
RULE 1 – CHEWING.
Never open your mouth while chewing.
Unless, that is, you know the words of the song being played from the City Hall Stage and that annoying urge to sing along takes hold.
RULE 2 – WINDAGE.
“Blowin’ in the Wind” is not just a Dylan song. True story: On Friday, I bought my first-ever apple pie on a stick from this food stand called “Glazed and Confused.”
Great. Leaping. Lizard Lips.
That’s about the tastiest pie thing I’ve ever stuffed down my pie hole.
Unfortunately, I became so involved in consuming my pie that I didn’t pay attention to what happened when a wind kicked up.
It blew the pie’s powdered sugar dusting all over my face and black shirt.
I kept on eating because, well, it would take a hurricane to stop me from stuffing myself. But when I finished, I realized that I looked like an Ankeny’s reveler from the 1980s, if you catch my drift.
RULE 3 – SEATING.
Finding a vacant seat during crowded Pigout peak times can require some creativity.
If you have young children, tell them to go stand next to a full picnic table and whisper the word “Ebola” at the diners until they grow uncomfortable enough to leave.
If you don’t have young children, you can probably rent a few for some curly fries from the Fry Guys.
RULE 4 – ELBOWS.
Guarding your plate with your elbows is considered crass conduct at many fancy restaurants, like The Davenport or Denny’s.
Not so at Pigout in the Park.
Guarding your grub makes good sense, especially if you’re parked next to untrustworthy relatives who keep drooling while they stare at the catfish po’boy you just bought from Gumbo Goddess.
RULE 5 – FOOD DROPAGE.
The five-second rule can be extended up to 25 seconds for any dropped glazed doughnut cheeseburger or shrimp taco.
Or five minutes for hand-dipped ice cream treats, although you may need a straw.
RULE 6 – WIPEAGE.
Most Pigout food vendors thoughtfully supply napkins.
Unfortunately, small paper products are woefully inadequate for many spills, like chicken korma, over-buttered corn on the cob or a powdered sugar faux cocaine blizzard.
This is why many bands sell T-shirts.
One or two XXLs will usually provide enough mopping power to clean up a family of six after a Gourmet Soul barbecue binge.
Too bad the bands don’t sell stretch pants.
RULE 7 – HEEDING THE CALL.
If you must go to the restroom, it is bad manners to go into any graphic details about Montezuma’s Revenge, the Ritzville Three-Step or why you’re suddenly dancing in place.
Instead, try a simple “excuse me,” followed by “touch my elephant ear and I’ll hunt you all down and take your real ears for trophies!” Yes, that’s the mannerly way.
RULE 8 – FLATWARE.
Knowing which piccalilli spoon or sardine fork to employ may be a big deal if you’re having high tea with the queen.
At Pigout, however, it can actually be quite difficult to find a piccalilli spoon.
Pigout veterans fold their paper plate into a V and let gravity slide the tasty contents into their mouths at a 45-degree angle.
That’s the ticket!
RULE 9 – AMAZING GRACE.
Uttering a short, sincere prayer of thanks is a meaningful way to honor the creator for the Pigout bounty you are about to scarf down.
Or you can just say hi to Bill Burke if he happens to pass by.