Sunday, July 23, 2006

Something offal

While we were at breakfast with my parents at a diner near their house recently, my wife Kara pointed to the side order section of the menu and asked, “What’s scrapple?”

A hush fell over the table as my family tried to think of the most delicate way to describe the local delicacy. Kara grew up in New York State, so she’s unfamiliar with some of the things that make Southeastern PA so special, such as Tastykakes and scrapple, two Philadelphia favorites that have somehow managed to stay mutually exclusive all these years, at least until somebody works out a palatable recipe for Scrapple-Filled Krimpets or Honey-Glazed Scrapple Buns.

We happened to be in town because we were visiting my parents for the weekend on our return trip from a beach vacation with Kara’s side of the family. My folks graciously agreed to ferret-sit while we were away. The varmint loves visiting Grandma and Grandpa, and as soon as we open his cage, he wastes no time burrowing into their couches and making his own little forts out of them. I’m sure Mom and Dad were sad to hand him back over to us.

Now that we’ve burned our shoulders as well as our vacation allotment for the year, Kara and I have several months of frolicking about the hallways at work to look forward to, basking under the light tubes and soaking in the fluorescence. Honestly, it’s a bit of a relief that beach season has ended for us. I have a difficult time foreseeing any potential situation over the next nine months that may require having to take my shirt off in public, assuming that I continue my several-year streak of not catching on fire or being apprehended on the show COPS. Without the Specter of the Swimsuit hanging overhead, ordering French toast, bacon and eggs for breakfast, and slathering all three in syrup, is much more enjoyable.

“Scrapple is a pork kind of thing,” I said. “It’s like sausage. They only make it around here because it’s so good that nobody will share the recipe. You should order some. You’d like it.”

“Oh no. Scrapple’s nasty,” Mom said, “It’s the stuff they won’t even put in hot dogs.”
Kara scrunched up her face. Getting rejected from a hot dog for being too gross is like getting kicked out of Hooters for not being dressed tastefully enough.

“When they’re making scrapple, they use everything but the squeal,” Dad offered, in case the point had not yet been made.

Perhaps the most persuasive argument I can muster for not eating scrapple is this: I’ve never seen my dad eat it. This is the man who, when we were on Boy Scout camping trips many years ago, used to roll open packets of raw, oily sardines and place the little fish on Ritz crackers.

“Ew, Dad, what are you going to do with that? It reeks like cat food,” I’d say, watching with horror. He’d just smile serenely and pop the whole shebang into his mouth as I ran off to get the other kids to come over and watch, like a little carnival barker: “Step right up, kids! Come see the Incredible Sardine-Eating Man… He doesn’t even care that they are obviously not meant for human consumption!”

Believe it or not, when the waitress came back to take our orders, Kara passed on the scrapple. But the experience piqued her curiosity enough that she looked up more information about scrapple on the internet when we got home.

“Scrapple is typically made of hog offal,” she read.

“What’s offal?” I asked.

As she continued to read, her face lost all of the color it had gained at the beach.

“Oh, that’s just awful,” she said.

You can send Mike Todd your favorite scrapple recipes online at mikectodd@gmail.com.

10 comments:

  1. Scrapple-filled Krimpets. My God, it's like a putrid tongue twister. I'm gonna be thinking of that all day...
    Kinda fun to say though.

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  2. So... you tried to get your wife to order some of this scrapple delicacy, did ya? How ever-so-kind of you!!! Hee, hee...

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  3. They call that pudding here. The white stuff has oatmeal in it and the black has extra blood. Not kidding.

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  4. your as ornery as my husband trying to get me to eat *sweet breads* OMG OMG OMG

    Can you say "not a chance in hell?"

    I knew you could. hehehehehe

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  5. Hey dudes! Thanks for dropping by. With so many important things happening in the world right now, I think we definitely need to discuss head cheese next.

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  6. I'm with your dad on the sardines. I like mine with mustard sauce.

    M. Night Shyamalan ending?

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  7. yuck - those sardines.... blech. Gary always eats them and then has the audacity to breathe in my direction. "WTF??!!!"" I scream at him "Stop eating the cat's food"

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  8. Did you know there is such a thing as "Mountain Oysters?" OH MY FREAKING GOD, THEY ARE PIG BALLS!!!

    That shit just scares me, man....

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  9. It's like Spam from the wrong side of town. Gak.

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  10. Hey Mike, I once enjoyed a PA delicacy known as burnt pretzels. I'm not kidding, they were all packed-up in a snazzy bag and everything. Is that a Southeastern PA thing, too?

    Weirder still, I was in Italy at the time. Oh, what a treat.

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