Parts is Parts

Today I met Kiki and Renee to discuss our latest book.  Every three weeks or so, we pick a book, read it and then meet to discuss it.  We all have similar eclectic tastes and will read just about anything, although I personally draw the line at cannibals and demons.  Were they to choose a book about demonic cannibals, I would skip that month. 

After our discussion, Kiki left and Renee and I hung out at the coffee shop for awhile.  I love sitting in a coffee shop because it feels so grown up.  I don’t drink coffee in any form, though.  I don’t care how much sugar, cream, vanilla flavoring, or whipped cream you put in, it still tastes exactly like burnt dirt to me.  It’s one of those things that smells soooooooo good and tastes sooooo bad!  I usually order a diet coke; works for me!

There we sat and I was doing my usual stream of consciousness thing, blurting out whatever came into my head, when I remembered the scrapple.  “I was in the Publix the other day,” I told her, “and I came across scrapple in the frozen food section.”

She looked mildly intrigued, so I continued “I picked it up and do you KNOW what is in that stuff???”

She did not, so I informed her “It’s made of pork, pork livers, pork hearts, pork eyebrows, pork skins and some other pork parts they can’t even list on the package because it’s just too disgusting.”

We fell into a discussion about scrapple, wondering who would eat it and how it would be fixed.  We paused, looked at each other and I said “Do you wanna go look at the Scrapple??”

“Oh yeah,” she said enthusiastically.  Because that’s the kind of friend Renee is.  She is always ready for adventure.  Not the hop a plane and head to Tibet to see the Dalai Lama kind of adventure because that is way too ordinary.  No, Renee is the kind of friend who says “yes, I want to go to the Publix and find weird food items and mock those who might possibly consume them.”  In other words, Renee is a true friend.  And she can also write prescriptions, which is just bonus in my opinion!

So off we went to the Publix which, conveniently enough, was located in the same strip mall.   I made a beeline for the freezer section and there it was:  SCRAPPLE.  We opened the case and solemnly removed the scrapple, handling it reverently as we read the ingredient list.  I freely admit here that I am far removed from the farm and I refuse to eat organs of any type!!  Yes, I have probably ingested them unknowingly, but there is honor and better digestion in ignorance!

“Ewwwwwww, pork hearts,” we squealed.  There were two types of scrapple, so we debated the merits of the Philadelphia style versus the country style.  We determined the Philly style looked slightly  more palatable, being a beige color versus the sickly gray of the country style.  The package gave no clues as to preparation, but I figured it was something probably fried in a  pan.  But more on that later.

From the freezer section, we headed to the canned meat aisle, drawn by a higher power to see what weirdness awaited our discovery.  Publix has a more refined section than Winn Dixie and there are no cans of pork brains (in milk gravy…yum!!!) or tripe.  There is, however, potted meat.  Potted Meat comes in a tiny can and if memory serves, it is a sickly pink paste.  I guess you eat it on a sandwich.  I had it when I was a child.  Imagine my horror when we picked up the can and discovered it was made with TRIPE!!  For those of you not familiar with tripe, let me enlighten you….it’s the scrapple of the beef world.  In other words, it’s parts!!

The other fascinating ingredient in potted meat was mechanically separated chicken.  Many images popped into our heads, including that of a chicken being tortured on the rack or run through the wood chipper.  Here is the actual definition: 

Mechanically Separated Poultry
is a paste-like poultry product produced by forcing crushed bone and tissue through a sieve or similar device to separate bone from tissue. Mechanically separated poultry has been used in poultry products since 1969 after the National Academy of Sciences found it safe for use. In 1995 the final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it was safe to use without restrictions. However, it must be labeled as “mechanically separated chicken or turkey” in the ingredient statement. The final rule became effective Nov. 1996.


Yummy!!  You would be amazed by how many of your favorite meat products, like Underwood deviled ham (I love that little devil guy!!!) and Spam contain mechanically separated chicken!  It makes me hungry just thinking about it!  “Paste-like Poultry Product: it’s what’s for dinner!!!!”

We moved back to the frozen foods and examined Goya Ham Croquettes.  These beauties are deep fried to a golden brown and stuffed with a pink paste the color of pepto bismol!  The ingredient list was 4 inches long and I am not exaggerating.  The paste itself contained two different red dyes, #4 and #37.  Intestinal cancer anyone?? The Goya chicken croquettes contain your favorite and mine, MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN!!!  At least the ingredient list for the chicken croquettes was only about one inch long!

After we parted ways, I headed home to pick up my husband and we headed right back out to meet our friend Karen for lunch.  Friday is my husband’s day off and I try to make sure we eat three meals out that day!  We went to Olive Garden and I mentioned my trip to Publix over the salad.

“Oh, I LOVE scrapple,” said Karen. 

I choked on a crouton because those were the last words I was expecting to hear from her.  She has some sort of fabulous corporate job and is not the sort of person I envisioned eating scrapple.  Renee and I had decided that the consumers of scrapple and olive loaf and other fine meat by-products were over the age of 90 and had been raised on farms in Iowa.

It turns out, according to Karen, that scrapple is a popular food in the New Jersey area.  It is, indeed, sliced and fried up in a pan.  “It’s one of my favorite breakfast meats,” she gushed.  “Every diner in New Jersey serves it!”  Ok, right away, I am crossing New Jersey off my list of possible vacation sites!

I gave her a sickly look and she said defensively “and you might as well know, I eat head cheese too.  Only you can’t get it at Publix anymore.”  FOR A GOOD REASON!!!  HEAD AND CHEESE ARE TWO FOODS THAT DO NOT COMBINE WELL AT ALL!!!! 

To be fair, my husband eats his fair share of gross meat products.  His family all adore a vile concoction called “blood sausage”; I’ll let your imaginations go to work here.  He is also a lover of fine head cheese and would probably eat scrapple if I cooked it up for him.

So the moral of the story is every region has its weird delicacies.  We have chitlins (chitterlings) here in the south and scrapple is big in the north.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the wholesome foods like Twinkies and Hershey chocolate and leave the meat by products to those with stronger constitutions!



  1. Dr. Renee
    Posted October 19, 2007 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    OMG! That definition of mechanically separated chicken is way worse than what I was imagining. What “tissue” are we separating from bone? Notice it does not say “meat” or “muscle” or even “organs,” but “tissue” Could be any damn thing! Eww!! I need to write myself a prescription for Phenergan. It’s a trip to the Winn Dixie next week, baby!

    And she is not kidding about the 4 inch by 2 inch list of ingredients on the ham croquettes. And in a font size too small for my geriatric eyes to read! I have never seen an ingredient list that long.

  2. Kiki
    Posted October 19, 2007 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Still got my can of Haggis! Unopened of course!

  3. Nancy S
    Posted October 19, 2007 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    My ex-husband’s family likes to eat something that totally grosses me out, but at least you KNOW what’s in it. The day after Thanksgiving or Christmas, you take a ton of butter or margarine and melt it in a frying pan. You then proceed to take some of the leftover cooked turkey and fry it in the butter! They cook everything until it has died 90 times, and this is no exception. You fry the hell out of this cooked turkey (swimming in butter) and eat it with scrambled eggs. One of his brothers-in-law (is that right, Jennifer?), the one I get along with best, agrees with me that this turkey in butter concoction smells like the worst body odor you could ever imagine. I used to have to leave the house when he cooked it. Luckily, my kids agree that it’s gross, because I’d hate to have to kick them out of the house, too.

  4. Karen
    Posted October 21, 2007 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Alright Jennifer – now your fate is sealed – you will be trying scrapple someday even if I have to sneak it in – I’ll think of something you breakfast meat snob you!! Seriously – I loved this blog – was rolling I was laughing so hard!! BTW – even I won’t eat potted meat or Spam!!!

  5. Posted October 21, 2007 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Coffee does taste like burned dirt, but I think it smells worse than it tastes!! Have you tried the Vanilla Creme at Starbucks? Hot milk, vanilla and whipped creme. Very good coffee alternative, if you are wanting a hot drink.

    I was born here, but I don’t eat any byproducts! I don’t even eat dark meat chicken. But I remember working at a grocery store years ago and those damn chitlins flew out of the store as fast as they could stock them. Well, someone can certainly have my share. And my scrapple, too!

    Is it called scrapple because its made out of scraps???

  6. Posted October 26, 2007 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Dang, Jennifer, I could hug every inch and pound of you for posting this! I LUV exotic (and sometimes erotic) foodstuffs. Your post has made this old horny pervert REALLY HONGRY as we backwoods rednecks say.

    When I was a kid we didn’t live on a farm, but like many people in those days we raised chickens for Sunday dinners and special occasions such as when our pastor came to eat with us. Dad also had bee hives to provide sweetening for cooking or just to give us raw honey for our sweet toothies (not to mention the bees pollinated the veggies in our several gardens around home). We also had a cow (yes, I washed her bag by kerosene lantern light even in freezing weather and learned how to pull on her teats in just the right way to make her milk flow into the pail which she frequently would step one manure-coated hoof into or kick over, while being slapped in the head by her tail as she tried to kill flies) for fresh raw (non-pasteurized) milk some of which we hand-churned into buttermilk and then also the butter flecks were made into butter blocks (or patties), all of which we used a portion of to either sell to neighbors who were fortunate enough to be able to pay for it or else they had something to barter in lieu of cash.

    Then WWII came along and meat was severely rationed, so Dad constructed a hog pen and we raised hogs for our table. I was lucky enough to participate even at my young age in the process of killing, scalding, scraping, dressing-out (removing the guts, Hon, and carving into separate pieces), processing, and preserving the meat.

    One of the joys of a “hog-killin” (don’t mention that to PETA, please) was the fine gourmet dining which immediately followed, including such delicious delicacies as “liver ‘n lights”. Lights, for the uninformed, are lungs. We gave the intestines (from which chitterlings are made, for you city folks) to Herbert, a black gentleman who worked for my Dad as a common laborer in Dad’s plastering contractor business, and Herbert considered himself to be well paid for his services.

    During more recent times, he mid 80s, my uncle by an unfortunate marriage, who raised and sold hogs for the market down in Butler County, was hospitalized and while he was out of commission I made sure that his hogs were fed and that plenty of water was hosed into their pens every day to provide a “hog wallow” for them. Hogs require a wallow in order to live in hot weather because they don’t sweat and the moisture from wallowing in mud and water keeps their body temperature low enough for them to survive. As payment for my having wallowed through tons of hog sh*t for a couple of weeks, Uncle G.J. (no name, just initials) had one of his prime marketable hogs killed and processed. Thus I ended up with one of the parts being the hog’s entire head. That was the first time I ever built a fire under one of those huge black cast iron pots full of water and made some absolutely mouth-watering hog’s head cheese.

    Am I banned from this blog now that I’ve made anyone who reads this puke?

  7. dailydiatribes
    Posted October 26, 2007 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    You’re not banned, but I am becoming a vegetarian!!!

  8. Posted October 28, 2007 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    LOL! Now you’ll have me to thank when you shrivel up into next to nothing.

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