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January 7, 2007

A Solution to the Pony Problem

Tom McLaughlin

They have become a real pain in the Assateague. The ponies that have roamed the island since colonial times have eaten themselves out of stable and manager and are threatening other endangered species.

Long a symbol of tax evasion and before the Boston Tea Party, these animals were forced to swim across the bay onto the barrier spit to avoid being counted by His Majesty's Tariff Collectors. Enjoying the beaches by surfing, sunning, water skiing and fishing, the ponies refused to return to the farm where a life behind a plow waited.

Years went by and the ponies adapted to the good life by developing extended bellies that resulted from consuming vast quantities of salt grass not unlike the modern Budweiser man of today. Life was good but would only get better.

At the southern end of the island, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department began rounding up some of the herd, forcing them to swim back and auctioned to purchase fire equipment and more beer. Word spread the bidders were fathers of prepubescent girls who developed better relations with them than their future husbands. In July, ponies galloped to the assembly point, swam ahead of the cowboys and displayed their best "bid on me" look. They had been practicing the act all winter.

Marguerite Henry wrote the book "Misty of Chincoteague" and catapulted the ponies into international fame. Families' worldwide herded to the island to catch a glimpse. They complied by posing for pictures, "hanging ten," and eating the free carrots and other delicacies brought their way by the tourists.

In the early 1960's the island was declared a National and State Park. A bridge was constructed bringing more tourists with more free food. Campers arrived, pitched tents and stated they enjoyed the mosquito infested, hot sand and salt crust of the area. Soon, the ponies learned to open the twist off beer bottles. They played games like knocking down tents at night to watch the humans flee in Stephen King fear.

More good news was to follow. The ecologists arrived. One of then decided there were too many ponies and darts were employed as contraceptives. Unabated joy commenced. Now they could engage in sex without having to foal and raise youngsters. No more teaching the kids to open ice chests to get a cold one.

Then one day, the ecologist's love for ponies waned. They accused them of stomping the nests of the idiot Piping Plover. This feathered birdbrain deserved extinction because they lay their eggs in the middle of the beach with only a few wisps of grass for protection. When hatched, the babies must run like hell across the sand to the dune grass and hide.

The ecologists also decided the ponies were eating a rare and endangered species of flora. Since all vegetation was the same to the ponies, they could not be blamed for purposefully eating the forbidden fruit except for the stuff sold in plastic bags.

Meetings were held throughout Worcester County to determine the fate of these now condemned creatures. Over population, egg stomping and grass eating could no longer be tolerated.

Finally all reached a solution:

Picula ad Caval

This traditional Italian recipe will serve 6

2 1/4 pounds ground horse meat

Tbsp. olive oil

2-1/2 ounces ground cured lard (or pancetta)

2 onions, minced

1 glass dry white wine (though some Italian chefs prefer broth)

6 ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded, chopped, and drained

2 bell peppers, ribbed and seeded, then diced

2 Tbsp. minced fresh herbs (basil, sage, and rosemary in proportions to taste)

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil, lard, and onion in a skillet. Sauté until the onion has become golden but don't let it get really brown. Add the horsemeat and brown it, stirring frequently. When it has browned, sprinkle in the glass of wine and reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Cover it, and let it cook for at least an hour. Mix in the chopped tomatoes and diced peppers, and continue cooking for another half hour.

Ten minutes before removing the dish from the stove, sprinkle the minced herbs over everything. Serve it hot with salt and pepper to taste.


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