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“Mr. Marvin’s Marinade”

by Bill McFadyen

February 25, 2018

I never knew a whole lot about Marvin Hayslip. One of his daughters married one my in-laws. I saw him on Thanksgivings. His family and my in-laws occupied the same house for a spell. As is my way, I mingled in and out of every group.

He seemed from a simpler time with simpler expectations. He had the same wife a for long, long time. They had at least three girls. Most likely, “life” for Mr. Marvin was routinely work, coming home, eating, working some around home, sleeping at home, and going back to work after he ate a little home-cooked breakfast. I would imagine there was subsistence gardening mixed in. Probably a few cane poles with bobbers and #8 wire hooks in a rafter with cobwebs attached. Deer and rabbits were probably considered meals more than they were considered cute.

One thing I do know that Mr. Marvin did (and did well) was make a marinade that I use on chicken wings. I cannot remember the exact when or the why that he chose to give me a gallon jug of the stuff.

Hopefully, he gave it a year later after finding pleasure in our conversation the Thanksgiving before. What I absolutely know is that I loved Mr. Marvin’s Marinade on my chicken wings way before it actually was on my chicken wings. I knew I loved it the moment I screwed of the capped and smelled it.

It was vinegar based and the vinegar was pervasive. It had lots of red pepper flakes floating on the top. When you stuck your longest finger into it, then inserted that finger in your mouth, the back part of your tongue on either side came tingling to life. It had a thickness to it from some type of oil or another. And it had just a bit of sweetness.

You put a dozen whole wings in a mixing bowl, slop over the liquid from the gallon jug, and let it sit as long as you can. There is no “too long.” Then you sear it shut on both sides over the hottest Kingsford coals you can make, move it to indirect heat after the searing, close it off to bring down the heat and to smoke it up real good, and baste it every fifteen minutes or so with what’s left in the bowl. You could accomplish that about three or four times with a gallon of the marinade.

Mr. Marvin was an old man when he died last year. I surmise that he finally just gave out of gas. It was well before Thanksgiving. His daughter that married my in-law gave me my last jug of Mr. Marvin’s Marinade posthumously during that following Thanksgiving feed. I was happy to get it; I was sad that it was to be the last one.

This weekend, my wife and last home-bound child ate wings from the grill, all Marvin-ed up to perfection.

There is about one more treatment in the gallon jug, unless I skimp or only grill for two.

I will be happy when I eat those next wings; I will be sad that they will be the last of their kind, as they go the way of Mam-ma’s cornbread and Gigi’s oyster casserole; as they go the way that we all will one day go.

THE JUG FROM THE STORY