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May 29, 2015

Breakfast of Champions


Pig brains wait on platters in a fridge at He Wang Shi Chuan Chuan Xiang Huo Guo, a skewer-style hotpot restaurant. - There Will Be Spice Roads & Kingdoms

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 29, 2015 7:01 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

That's awfully disgusting.

Posted by: pbird [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 30, 2015 7:13 AM

From Foxfire 1:

Aunt Arie's conversation was so interesting that, rather than summarize what she told us, we have let her speak for herself. As the tape recording begins, we have just walked in on her as she is trying to remove the eyes from a fresh hog's head just given to her by a neighbor. Unable to do it herself, she asks for our help. Now see if you can take your fingers and pull that eyeball up and cut it. Now I can, if I had strength. What are you going to make with all this? Souse meat. Boy, that's the best stuff I ever eat. I love it better'n sausage. How do you make that? Take this now; I'll soak this now, and soak all th' blood out of it until in th' mornin' it's just as white. Then I'll take an' grind it on that sausage grinder an' take th' juice that this is cooked in, part of it, and put some sage'n'black pepper'n'red pepper and stir-r-r it all up until it's so good'n'fine as it can be, and then put it in them cannin' jars'n'seal it. Then open it in th' winter. I love it better'n anything in th' world. Why, lot'a people eats it cold. Let me see one more time. I might can do it. I don't know now. I don't believe I can on account'a this hand. Break m'knife. If I's stout enough I could pull it out (struggling) but I ain't. I don't know how t'get it out. I know yore hand's stouter'n mine. I never done 'at in my life. That knife's been t'breakfast I think. It's dull as a froe. Doin' any good? Doesn't this bother you—pulling eyes out of things like this? I don't care fer't bit more'n spit'n'th' fire. Ah, I've just done anything'n'ever'thing in my life 'til I don't care fer nothin 'at way. I don't. Nothin' just don't never bother me, what I mean, make me sick. They lot'a people can't when th'blood comes s'bad'n's'bad'- n's'bad—they run off'n leave it. They can't stand it. I don't pay it a bit'a'tention in th' world. What will you do with the eye? Throw it away. You know, I went t'a place up on Coweeta one day—th'schoolhouse up there—an' they had hog's head cooked, an' they wanted me t'eat some of it. An' I eat some'a that hog's head when that eye'd been cooked in it. I didn't know it. An' atter I eat it, I wouldn't eat—why, you couldn'a hired me t'eat that with th' eye in't. No! I wouldn't eat a bite a'that. But I eat it an' didn't know it! Now he's havin' a hard time with that, ain't he? Well, 'at's hateful, ain't it? I wish I had somethin'—one thing, that knife's too dull. An' I don't think I got ary'nother'n's any sharper. I've got a good notion t'go in ther'n get that hand saw'n let'cha saw that in two right through here. Then you'd get 'at out! If it takes y's'long t'get that out as't do that other'n, we'll be worried t'death. We could try that saw. You reckon that'd get't out any better? Might ruin th' hand saw. I don't know whether bones—aw, I don't reckon bones'd hurt a hand saw any worse'n wood. (She goes to get the saw.) I wish y'did have somethin' sharp t'get't out. That saw ain't been used in s'long I don't know. Let me reach my fingers down in there'n see if I can pull it out. Wish I could get this knife down in there. Well, I can't cut nothin'. It's s'near out now y'hate t'saw't in two, don'cha? I don't want t'cut that eye if I can help it 'cause th' black stuff'll run all over ever'thing. Give't good pull see if y'can pull it out a little further. Oh, my goodness alive! (Laughing.) I wish I was stout like I use t'be. I been awful little all my life. My hands never has been nothin', but boys they's done lots'a hard work. I wish I could . . . well, they ain't no use in wishin' such as 'at, call back twenty-five years ago. That's silly. I think I honestly lived an'done th'best I could; and then wish y'could go back over your life again. I think that's silly in a way. There's not a thing in this world—in my life—that I'm ashamed t'meet nobody with. Yall remember that, children. Don't never do a thing in this world that you don't want your poppy and mommy t'know. And then, when th' last roll's called, you'll be ready t'go where you're gonna spend eternity out yonder. Remember that. I'd be glad t'meet ever'one of you some of these days. 'Cause that's where I'm a'headin' for. Some of these days I'll have a road t'walk on 'stead'a walkin' in th' mud. Ain't we never gonna get it? Yep. I got it. Well, I never knew you could get it. Now you let me have't an' I'm 'one' take it'n throw it away. Now what about—they's another'n here just th' same way. (She takes the first eye to the back door and throws it out. It sails through the air, lands on a nearby tin roof, rolls off and hangs bobbing on the clothesline. All of us are laughing so hard we can hardly see to work on the second eye. Finally, we start again.) What was in this hole here? His ears. Lot'a people eats 'em. I wouldn't eat one fer nothin'. Y'd have t'clean 'at old hair off 'n scrape it all off good. It's good'n clean's any of it but I don't want none of it. I ain't never see'd so much meat left on nothin' in my life. I want you'n's t'look'a there. Did you ever see as much meat left on a hog's jaw in yore life? Oh-h-h. Don't look like he'd want'a give such as 'at away. An' they wouldn't have a cent fer't. No sir. They gi'me one last year too. They good neighbors—law, what good neighbors'ey are. Take all th' hairs off. Gags me when I get a hair in my mouth. Oh, I just gag an' keep on'n'on. Ulysses'd laugh at me. He'd just die laughin' at me; an' I'd get up'n go out on th'porch'n not eat nary another bite. I don't know why I do it, but I do do it. Lord, how I do love t'fix somethin' t'eat. Ye-e-e-s. 'At's what we live on, ain't't? Yes sir. You'll always remember what'cha done today when y'come back, won't'cha? How did you preserve meat? Smoke it? I don't want no old smoked meat. You might, but I don't. You see 'at little house right out there? Well, 'at's a smoke house. Well now, we'd kill high as four big hogs at one time; take'n cut it all up like this is. And we always salted ours th' day that we cut it up. Some people wait's t'th'next day, but I don't like that. Take 'n spread it all out along a bench—Ulysses made benches in there —an' spread it all out an' take salt'n'black pepper—not too much black pepper—and mix it all up in a pan, we always did; an' lay it out there 'til it got cured. Then, see, that black pepper keeps th' flies off of it. An' that's preserved then; that salt preserves it. If your flies comes—if they smell fresh meat they'll come an' then they'll blow it, you know; they lay eggs there'n'that'll make worms —well now, you can hear'em when they come. We've got an old oven—looks like a large iron frying pan with legs and a lid—we used't'bake bread in. You put coals down in it an'take red pepper and put down in them coals'n set't afire an'set it down under th' meat an'run th' flies off. Th' oven's iron, y'know, an'it won't burn th' floor. I don't know where my oven is. I's studyin' about it th' other day. Used t'make our own lard an'put't up in four gallon jars too. I always saved th' gut fat—come off th' guts inside a'th' hog. Commence at one end of 'im an'strip it off. You have't'be awful careful. You have t'know how t'do things. I'm worried about ruining this saw. Aw, it won't hurt it. If't does, let it holler. It's spent its days. Don't you hit th' eyeball if y'can he'p it. That old black stuff'11 just run out all over y'. I don't wan't'see't. It ain't a bit nasty in th'world. I just don't wan't'see't. At's about's hard's th' other way, ain't it? I never did try t'take out nary'n before. What about me eighty-four years old 'n'helped with th' cookin'n'ever'thing all my life . . . but see, at my house they was four boys an' they always done all such as 'at. An' momma wouldn't let me cut a stick a'wood. No sir. She'd hear that axe hit one lick'r two licks at th'wood pile. "Lay that axe down!" AnT knowed t'do it. She'd whup me all over. (We give up with the saw and try the knife again.) I wish I did have a good sharp knife. Used t'have a good grind rock put up there on th' crib shed, an'Ulysses'd hold th' knives an' I'd turn th'grind rock; but I got no way t'do that 'n'more. I hope you boys never has't'live by you'n'self. In one way hit's a joy, and in another way hit's lonesome; uneasy many times—nobody t'he'p y'. Don't make no difference how bad sick y'get—nobody t'hand y'a dose a'medicine, ner t'do a thing in th' world. Boys, hit's not s'good. I c'n tell y'that now. I got sort'a scared here last week. I 'bout give out of a bite of anything t'eat. See, all th' meat'n stuff's in th' cellar except th' dried beans. Well, you can't eat dried beans in a minute. Y'have t'have time t'cook 'em. Well I couldn't get th' cellar door open. It come a freezin' spell an' that door swelled up. Well I tried ever'day t'open that door, an' I got a rock an' I tried t'rock it down 'til I could open it. Even had Irish 'taters in there and couldn't get Irish 'tater't'eat. I's sorta scared I tell you. You can't get nary hand on nary thing t'eat, cook. I can cook but couldn't get m'hands on't to cook. So I said, "Well, I reckon next thing best t'do's t'boil a big kettle a'water . . ." First thing I done when I went in th' kitchen this mornin's t'go see if my door'd open so I have somethin' t'cook fer dinner, an' it opened just as pretty as it could be. Lord, I rejoiced! I did. I rejoiced an' run in there an' got me a can a'beans an' put on t'cook. (Finally we get the second eye out.) Well! Done a little better'n th'other'n, didn't it? Well we did get that'n' right. Now that's all I want you t'do. That's a whole lot, but I just couldn't do that. How will you get the other hairs off? I'll put another fire in th'stove an' I'll either cut'em off or singe'em off or scald'em off. See, I've done got m'water on. Now that's all I'm goin' t'do with that 'til I get that an' wash it good'n clean; an' in th'mornin' it'll be just as white. Then I'll put it in a little cooker, I call it, and then all that meat'll come off'a them jaw bones. When y'take'n'boil these jowls—these jaw bones—an' take all th' meat off of'em an' get th' marrow out an' put sauce over't, it's just as good as it can be. (She goes to the door to throw the second eye out.) I trot m'self t'death. Ulysses used t'holler t' me about trottin' s'much. Now if I live, an' you'ns lives, an' you'ns comes t'eat with me any time this winter, I'll open a can a'souse. Oh, hit's good, souse is; that is if it's cleaned good and fixed good. I love 'at. An' you love th' tongue of a hog? Boys, I do if y'peel 'em off good. I don't never grind it up. I just put't in with th' head'n cook't all t'gether—th'tongue's good'n tender then—an'then peel it off; peel that old—aw, whatever't is; 'tain't no skin an'tain't got no hair on't you know th' tongue ain't. An' I love th' feet. Do you love th' hog's foot? Law, how good they are. But hit takes awful'ot t'clean'em 'til they fit t'eat. Well, thank you'ns. An' I'll return th' compliment someday—you can't never tell! (We draw a bucket of water from the well and begin to wash our hands.) Boys, I had a good Thanksgiving dinner all by m'self. I cooked a big chicken. I thought somebody'd come fer dinner but they never. I just eat chicken. I had beans'n stuff cooked, but I never eat nary bite'a nary thing more'n chicken. I love chicken. I'm silly about chicken. If I had plenty a'money, I'd put me in a short sink right here so I wouldn't have t'trot outdoors ever'time t'pour th'water out; but I guess I got just about what I'll have when I'm took away from here. Look like th'porch out there's gonna have t'be fixed; an' they want me t'sell th' place so bad. I've already been offered lots fer't an' I wouldn't take it. This land goes over 'cross that mountain an' plumb on down on th' other side, an' th' gover'ment [government land] comes up there, an' they want that. I say I don't want'a sell it, an' they just looked up at me s'funny. Said, "What would I do with all that money?" You know, I don't care nothin' about money much. My feet's gettin' sorta cold! (We move to the living room where a fire is burning.) I was born an' raised on Hick'ry Knoll 'til I was eight years old. It'uz a hard livin'. I don't know how Poppy made it. Mommy never see'd a well day in her life. She was born with somethin' th' matter with her head—one side'a her head run from th' time she was born 'til she died. But I can tell y'one thing. In your life, don't never care a cent in this world t'wait on your mother, whether she's sick or not sick. When she's gone, you'll be glad y'did. Yes you will. 'Cause I've not got a thing in this world t'regret. I waited on my mother day and night—what I mean day and night. Many a night I been up waitin' on my mother when ever' body else was in th' bed asleep. I rejoice over that. God'll repay you for all that. God'll certainly bless y'fer it. Poppy had a awful hard time, an' his daddy died a way 'fore he was born so he had a hard time t'begin with. Well, atter he's married he had a worse time /'// say, with all 'at sickness'n'ever'thing on 'im. Mommy did love wheat bread, an' he worked for a peck a'corn a day so he could get Mommy bread t'eat. Why, he'uz as good t'Mommy as a baby. Now Ulysses didn't believe this, an' I didn't care whether he did'r not—you know, if I tell anybody anything an' they believe it, it's all right; an' if they don't believe it, I don't care whether they do'r not—I never heard Poppy give Mommy a ill word in my life. Now we had some hogs, and one of our hogs got in a neighbor's corn patch an' eat some of his corn. And he come after Poppy an'told him t'come get his hog, an' he charged Poppy two dollers fer what it eat. Poppy's s'mad he didn't know what t'do. That'uz th' maddest I've ever seed Poppy in my life. An' Mommy—he called her Dink, that was her nickname—she said somethin' t'Poppy. "Now," he says, "Dink, don't you say a word to me while I'm mad." An' that was ever'thing's ever said about that. She hushed, of course. An' he never said nary another word. That was th' illest word I ever heered Poppy tell Mommy in my life. It's a whole lot easier today. I've hoed corn many a day fer a quarter. Many a day. An' we used t'pick huckleberries, me'n m'brother did, an' swap two gallons a'huckleberries fer one gallon a'syrup. Had t'do somethin' t'make a livin'. But we always had plenty t'eat. We always had plenty a'what we had. We didn't have no great stuff that cost a lot. We never did buy that. Well, we just didn't have nothin't'pay fer't, an' we always tried t'pay as we went. You know, if y'get goin' in debt, next thing y'know you can't pay it t'save yore life. I'm scared t'death a debts. I owe fer this road now, an' it worries me t'death. Used t'be I didn't have enough money t'mail a letter with. An' you know how much candy I bought in my life 'fore I's married? I bought one nickel's worth a'candy in my life. I just didn't have nothin' t'buy with. Poppy hired a girl t'stay with Mommy 'til I got big enough t'do th' work, an' y'know how much he'd have t'pay? Seventy-five cents a week. They'd work all week fer seventy-five cents. An' picked blackberries'n'strawberries. Always had somethin' t'eat. Pickled beans'n' ever'thin'. Why, we've pickled beans in a twenty gallon barrel; but I ain't got any this year. Groundhogs eat m'beans up an' I never had nary one t'pick. I had two bushel baskets full'a cans, an' I took 'em out there an' poured'em in th' groundhog's hole an' took a stick an' beat'em in. An' you know, that groundhog left an' never did come back. Couldn't bear them rattlin' things. Just couldn't stand'em {laughing). An' we've raised high as seventy-five bushel a'Irish 'taters over'n'at field over there. Did'ja ever put up any sweet 'taters? Well, I'm gonna tell y'how. Law, Fuz s'glad t'know how I didn't know what t'do. Dig yer sweet 'taters an' sun'em 'til they gets just th' least bit swiveled, I call it; an' put 'em in pasteboard boxes an' cover'em up. They ain't nary one a'mine rotted yet. We kep'em in th' tater house. One day that 'tater house fell down—fell out, side of it did up there. I went t'get'taters an' they's th' biggest light in th' house, an' I said, "What in th' world's th' matter with th' tater house?" Here they was, th' side of it fell out. Y'ever eat any lye hominy? Boys, 'at's th' best stuff ever you eat in yore life. It sure is. Boys, I've made many a pot full. And soap, law, I've made many a pot'a soap too. Had th' ash hopper, oak ashes. And bottomed chairs—I guess I bottomed 'bout ever'one a'these. He'ped to do it. I can't make th' splits. I bottom'em with white oak splits. Some people bottoms'em with bark, but I never did. Bark does easy t'what th' wood does. Course it don't last like wood. Tain't good like wood. (We asked her to tell us more about the bark method.) Use young poplar bark in th' spring a'th' year when th' sap rises; y'can't make it no other time. Only cut little poles certain lengths an'then peel'em an' use that while it's green. If y'wait 'til it gets all dried up, it'll break all t'pieces. An' always join th' ends under th' bottom. Never do jine'em on th' top a'th' chairs. On th' bottom so they won't bother nothin'. An' I've made baskets. I've made lots'a baskets. I love t'fool wi'my hands. I just love t'fool with 'em. I made 'em with white oak splits, an' I've made some with willers. Wilier baskets is hard 'cause y'have t'go off t'th' branch, an' we ain't got no willers grows on this place like a heap a'people has. Get'cha little willers, well, long as they grow. Ain't none of 'em big as yer finger. An' y'have t'have a big pot a'water by th' fire an' keep them willers soft in that. Didn't, they'd break all t'pieces. Put 'em in hot water an' th' bark just peels off like ever'thing. Gather'em when th' sap first rises on 'em pretty good, an y'can skin'em pretty well without scaldin'em; but if y'don't, y'have t'scald'em. I'd rather scald'em. They last longer I always think. An' I've made foot mats out'a corn shucks—t'wipe yer feet on. That's easy, an' that's th' prettiest work! They make th' best foot mats. I ain't made none since m'hand's paralyzed. I reckon God just didn't intend fer me t'work my hand! Used t'raise corn pones too. You ever eat any corn pones were raised? It's made out'a corn meal. Now hits another hard job, an' I love it better'n a cat loves sweet milk, I shore do. But I ain't raised none in a long time. Poppy always had me t'raise him a corn pone t'go t'Nantahaly. See, Poppy raised stock an'turned on Nantahaly range. Whenever th' time come, "I'm' a goin' t'Nantahaly a certain day an' you raise me some corn pones," well, 'at's what I done. I had a big oven a'purpose t'bake'em in. Have t'cook'em on th' fireplace. An' Lester Mann, he found out I could do that, an'they's'good; why he a-a-a-always, when he started t'th' mountains, he always come an' I raised him a corn pone. Hit'd be five inches thick. An' you take that com pone an' slice it an' lay it in grease an' fry it in a pan in th' mountains, an' that was hot bread, y'see? An' law, they thought that'uz th' greatest thing in th' world. I've raised many a one that's went t'Nantahaly. I'll tell'y', be a neighbor and you'll have neighbors. Now I've tried that by experience. I do try t'be good t'ever'body, and I try t'treat ever'body just as I'd have them treat me. I don't care th' goodness you do, you'll always get repaid for it. Double. Fourfold. You children remember that. Th' more you do for people, th' more they'll do for you. Always remember, t'have a friend, be one. Doesn't being here alone bother you sometimes? Well, it's mighty lonesome. When it comes storms an'things like that, it's not s'good. And still I don't mind it a bit in th' world. Ain't only one thing I'm afraid of, an'that's snakes. When 'at big'n come in that big pile here awhile back, hit scared th' life out'a me just about. I like t'never got over it. But I ain't like this pore old woman lives over here. She's afraid of a bear an'carries a'axe with her ever'time she comes over here. Tickles me. A little old hand axe. I said, "What you goin' do wi'that?" She said, "Kill a bear." I've lived here eighty years an'never see'd a bear in my life. An' I'll tell you th' truth, I'm not bothered with one single thing in this world here. That groundhog's only thing in this world that bothers me. An th' fox. They won't let me have a chicken. I had twenty hens an' two roosters, an' they catched th' last one of 'em. I wanted t'get s'more, an' Ulysses said they wadn't no use. We made a good life here, but we put in lots'a'time. Many an'many a night I've been workin' when two o'clock come in th' mornin'—cardin'n'spinnin'n'sewin'. They want me t'sell an'move away from here, but I won't do it. It's just home—'at's all. I spent my happiest days here.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 30, 2015 9:29 AM

I read the Foxfire books sometime at the end of the 60s. Eating pig brains, etc, is still disgusting.

Posted by: pbird [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2015 7:14 AM

I've only knowingly eaten animal innards a handful of times and can't see the benefit.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2015 9:48 AM

@pbird, that's pretty amazing considering the first book was published in 1972.

Maybe you're thinking of the magazines which were published starting in 1966.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2015 9:51 AM

Eating brain should bring lot of knowledge

Posted by: sampath [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2015 12:46 PM

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