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Sunday, December 20, 2009

The stuff I used to eat still available at Food Lion

In the fall of 1971, the freshman class at UNC Chapel Hill gathered in a warm auditorium for a welcoming ceremony. One of the speakers was Kathryn Carmichael.

After she spoke, she took questions. One question came from a young man of the Yankee persuasion. "What are grits, and why do you eat them?"

I'm surprised that his acceptance letter didn't erupt in flames on the spot.

Dr. Carmichael responded without missing a beat. "Grits are corn kernels cracked into small pieces, but not so small as to be considered flour, which we call corn meal, boiled, and served in different manners but most commonly with butter at breakfast. We eat grits for the same reason every other culture eats what it eats: We eat them because they are what we have. Like collards, you see. In time, we acquire a taste for what we have, and eating it brings us a certain comfort, especially in dark and troubled times. Perhaps one day, you will look upon a bowl of grits with a pat of butter floating on the top and be transported back to the glory days that were your years at Carolina."

The silence that preambled the deafening applause only served to warn the rafters that a woman of consumate power and reckoning had just spoken a truth.

I was reminded of this as I walked through Food Lion fetching some groceries.

Here is some of the stuff they still sell that I used to eat because it is what we had.

Beef hearts. Pork too, but I did not see pork hearts in the case. Heart meat is very tough. You probably want it ground or chipped very finely. I doubt you have the molars to make a go at it.

Ditto for chicken hearts.

Beef liver. Pork too. Mama used to cook this regularly. I hated it, but years later, I found myself cooking it on a Friday night. Yes, with onions.

Chicken livers are another matter. Breaded and fried, these things are without compare.

I might need to rundown to Smithfield to get a mess of fried chicken livers from Holt's Lake BBQ.

Pig tails. We used them to make broth for soup, and yes, we gnawed the meat off the tails. My mama would eat the gristle too.

Scrapple. I do not know why they have to add country to the name. Think liver pudding with pork skin and spleens added to the mix. It's all ground and cooked. You just have to warm it in the skillet. Serve with toast and eggs. Or make a sandwich.

Liver pudding is better.

Souse meat. Think pork ears chipped and served in a flavored gelatin. I used to eat this for lunch with Scott's BBQ sauce when I taught Physics and Chemistry at Lee County Senior High School.

Souse meat is so popular that two companies compete for your dining pleasure.

C-loaf. Pork stomachs chopped and served in more flavored gelatin. You know you want some!

The one thing I could not find were the pickled pig feet. When I was little, Mama would be cooking dinner, and she'd set me in my high chair with a pickled pig foot. I'd gnaw on it for an hour or more while she cooked.

Later when Bro and I were grown and Mama was working security at Data General in Clayton, we would come in at odd hours and find her sitting at the kitchen table eating a pickled pig foot. I suspect it brought her a little of some much needed comfort at the time, and I'm pretty sure the price was right

-- text tapped from a virtual keyboard.

Location:Westgrove St,Raleigh,United States

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