Monday, December 7, 2009

Gross food

Why do some people find certain foods gross just because some of the ingredients aren't common standalone foods? I'm talking about haggis and scrapple. These are foods created by people who were economizing. They both involved boiling up unused part of an animal, grinding up that protein and mixing it with a binding agent and extender and adding seasonings. Haggis is a sheep's heart, lungs and liver mixed up with oatmeal. Scrapple is a pig's brains, ears, nose and meat off the skull mixed up with cornmeal. The ingredients are cooked several times and ground into an innocent looking product. Now I've never tried haggis, but I have had scrapple. It is prepared for eating by thinly slicing the chilled meatloaf and frying each slice so it gets a crispy crust, but it has a hard-to-describe gooey consistency in the middle. If somebody dislikes the texture I will allow that. But just rejecting it out of hand because it uses odd parts seems prejudicial for no reason. Did they not read Little House in the Big Woods? Laura Ingalls was excited to get to eat the pig's tail. Why has our culture made the delicacies of farm life unpopular?

Apparently these gross foods have been controversial for a long time, since 1872 according to this article in the New York Times. They included scanned versions of the entries in the paper, including raves like this one.

"It is a Pennsylvania dish, originating among the Germans, and is to be met with in Philadelphia in private families, but not in the hotels or restaurants. The best scrapple is made by the farmers, who bring it to the Philadelphia market two days of each week. Some people may object to scrapple because it contains pork, and yet they fill their stomachs with unwholesome dishes fried in hog's lard, which is the worst form of the 'unclean animal.' The use of lard in cooking is an American peculiarity, and is doing much injury to our American stomachs, causing more dyspepsia than will ever be cured by the nostrums of the quacks, or the drugs of the physicians. Give me scrapple every morning for breakfast, in the season of it, and I care not who may have the stead, and chop, and sausage." -- PHYSICIAN

And one dissenter who suggests oatmeal instead of that "abominable mixture scrapple, and there is no danger of an attack of trichina after having partaken of it." BLUE BONNET (Maybe they didn't know yet that cooking kills trichinosis parasites?)

Another guy disparages all people who eat scrapple as being posers who buy fancy clothes instead of good food. "I fear 'scrapple' is the device of someone of that numerous class... who believe that a well-filled table is an extravagance, and deny themselves not only all luxuries, but necessities, in order to put the equivalent on their backs." A GOOD LIVER

Finally another writer speaks up for scrapple and has cruel words for the previous remark. "I felt sure that something was lacking in that good lady's recipe, so wrote at once to my native state to ascertain. If she will at the liver, she will find the dish immeasurably improved. I don't mean 'Good Liver,' though he ought to be boiled and chopped up for giving his opinion so confidently on what he knows nothing about." H.G.

See, this is why I hesitated to start a blog! People are so mean! It's a tradition going as far back as 1872 apparently! Lots of people have ridiculous opinions, but nobody deserves to be boiled and chopped up! I give you all the right to not not eat scrapple, but please don't flame me!

For reference, the recipe for haggis. You'll notice there is a mistake in there that I corrected with a comment. I hate things that are wrong on the internet!

1 comment:

  1. Okay, the way you describe these foods doesn't make me more interested in eating them, but that doesn't mean I would try them. The "gooey consistancy" thing isn't exactly making me hungry...

    People should try things that sound bad to them at first, though, since they just might find they like it...