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Taking dining lessons from Southern possums

"When in Rome," he said, as he served our Sunday evening meal.

None of us could look at our plates. We just sat there, speechless and repulsed. In self-defense, I controlled my gastric juices long enough to reply, "People don't really eat this stuff."

Yet, despite the family's clear surprise and disgust, he insisted that we try the meal he so caringly prepared. And though none of us doubted his bighearted intentions, we couldn't stomach even the thought of it passing our lips.

With an encouraging tone of voice, he urged us, saying, "People around here do eat this. I bought it at the grocery store meat department. There must be something to it. I think you will all really like it, if you try it."

I apologized profusely, left the table with my plate in hand, and flung its contents into the backyard.

The dog looked at me with a rueful expression, as if to say, "Thanks, but dogs don't really eat this stuff."

Later that night, a possum couple, which regularly foraged in the neighborhood, passed through our yard. They sadly gazed at each other with eyes that implied, "I hope the Jones put out some trash, because possums don't eat this stuff."

Buffaloed chicken feet have not graced our table since.

In the event of starvation to the point of renal failure, I admit that I might have tried to suck the buffalo sauce from those gnarled, voodoo chicken toes. Which brings me to my real point: consumption of entrails and extraneous "parts" should only occur in times of severe famine, not as a general entr»e in a meal.

I don't believe for one instant that my forbearers, the Scottish highlanders, ever intended for haggis to be the food of Scotland. Just because they figured out a way to spice up sheep's belly in hard times, and garnish it nicely, doesn't put guts in the same league with escargot (or does it?).

Speaking of the French, the same country that brings us sumptuous »clairs, also boasts tripe. Do they really think that the first Frenchman, driven by his survival instinct, to ingest scrapings from the stomach walls of a cow, relished the idea of having a midnight snack with the leftovers?

Historically, humankind delved into eating monkey brains only after eating all the decent parts, followed by the make-you-squirm parts, and finally, the, gag me, someday-someone-will-eat-these-on-Fear Factor parts. I promise that, as the pot of brains stewed and the monkey-head bowls sat empty on the log, the tribe did a little help-us-catch-another-monkey-in-the-next-three-minutes-or-mom-will-make-us-eat-monkey-brains dance to the food gods.

If you would scoff at eating road kill, then you shouldn't eat anything that looks like it squirted out as the back tires bumped over a flattened raccoon. Scrambling innards with eggs doesn't magically change them into breakfast cuisine. Stuffing an empty organ sack with anything won't mysteriously transform it into steak.

Pickling a pig's ear does not a pickle make it.

If you can look at your cut of meat and immediately draw a mental image of it wetly snorting in the slop trough, or scampering in mud about the barnyard, then put it back and get the chops.

Remember, if a possum wouldn't eat it, then neither should you. And by all means, let's clear up the nasty little rumor that chicken feet are the official Georgia state food.

Web posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2005


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Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01

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