I love the people who live below the Mason-Dixon line. I’ve said so before.
I’m in South Carolina and this morning, I had breakfast with a group of women who dazzle me with their professionalism, their brains, and their hair. These are Women Of The Carolinas and I, for one, am impressed. “Good” stereotypes are really no better than the bad ones, so one has to be careful about saying, “All women in the South are this or that way.” But dammit, all these women are fabulous and they are fabulous in a way I’m afraid us Yanks only dream about. It’s the hair and the mascara, yes, but it also has something to do with their reactions to things. Down here, it’s like you get a .2 second grace period that isn’t available anywhere else in the country. You get just a moment more tiiiime with everythin’ and Lord knows we all need just a little more tiiiime, sweethaart. I have to think about it some more, what the difference is, but I’m full of dinner because they keep feeding me, which isn’t a Southern thing, just a fellow human being thing.
At breakfast, one of the Carolinians ordered a food I had never heard of. When she told the waitress what she wanted, the other women at the table wrinkled their noses and rolled their eyes. “You’re gettin’ that again, oh Lord.”
“What?” the young woman said, sheepish. “Ah love livermush.”
I set my coffee down. “I’m sorry; did you say ‘livermush’?”
She blushed just a bit. “Mm-hm,” she said. This girl is very good at her job and does it while looking like a cross between Botticelli’s portrait of Simonetta Vespucci and that character Elsa from Frozen. (Have you seen that movie? Do you know what I’m talking about? No? Frozen? Well, anyway.)
I asked this girl to explain what she had just told the kitchen to give her for breakfast. Turns out livermush is foodstuff made primarily in North Carolina that consists mainly of pig liver, head parts, and cornmeal. This…product is formed into a loaf and then sliced up and fried. When it is fried, it is then put between two pieces of bread and served as a sandwich, or it’s served with grits and eggs, or sometimes it’s served on its own, or it’s fried and then not eaten by anyone above the Mason Dixon line or any children anywhere, ever.
There’s another name for this food: scrapple. I know this because I just spent a half-hour researching livermush. When you read this blog, you know, you learn stuff.
I’ve had scrapple. I had it at a restaurant in Chicago not long ago. There was a moment in time when any self-respecting restaurant in any self-respecting city wouldn’t be caught dead without offal** on the menu. If you didn’t have a beating cow heart, a plate of entrails, or a cocktail served in a deer hoof on your specials list, well, kid, pack it up. I was never too into all that, but I did order scrapple once. I figured it sounded so disgusting that it had to be delicious. It just had to be, at a place like that, at that price. Indeed, it was delicious. There was a small portion. It was very protein-y, and the bottle of wine I was enjoying with my companion was extremely expensive, so really, everything tasted incredible.
“Ah I know it sounds gross,” my breakfast pal said, “But livermush is great. Ah’ve loved it since I was a kid. Ah know it freaks everybody out, I’m sorry.”
Go for it, Elsa. There’s all the tiiime in the world to have regular ol’ bacon. I’ll have what you’re having; let me live your life for awhile. Mine needs a Southern-style break.
**Offal: (n.) the entrails and internal organs of an animal used as food; refuse or waste material. I’ll have you know the secondary definition of offal is “decomposing animal flesh” which reminds me of this article I read about “high meat.” If you’d like to not eat anything else for the rest of the week, go google “high meat” and you let me know how that goes.