WBM september 2020
There was a saying that, when a pig
was butchered, “everything was used
except the squeal.” Even the feet and
the guts. Killing a chicken? Sure, the
breasts and thighs are tasty. But better
find a way to use the neck, organs and
gizzard. Slaughtering a cow? Enjoy the
steaks, and don’t forget the stomach.
And the tail.
The list of “necessity foods” spans
cultures and countries. It includes
menudo, tripas, chitterlings, oxtails,
neck bones, livermush, sausage,
chicken fried steak, monkfish, and
even lobster. All were the least
palatable part of an animal, or
something that was unwanted by the
wealthy. When you’re hungry, though,
anything will do.
All are still eaten. Not necessarily
out of necessity, but out of preference.
In a society with plentiful food at
affordable prices people no longer
have to eat pig feet and the like. But
they choose to.
Often, it’s because of nostalgia.
Food that might have been on the
table generations ago because of need
becomes part of family lore, passed
down as grandma’s favorite recipe.
“I’ve got one guy who eats with me,
he calls it memory food,” Casey says.
“It’s the food he grew up eating. He’s
been on a paleo diet for like 30 years.
He’ll cheat a little when he’s in here.”
Casey’s own childhood informed
his taste for food, and his career
“I grew up poor, and pig feet were
economical,” he says. “My grandma
would cook them and the fatback; she
was a great country cook. I had a lot
of African-American friends. My best
friend was black, and that’s where I
got eating chitlins and hog maws, at
his grandmother’s house. When I was
a kid, I wanted to get in the restaurant
business. I’ve done everything from
fast food to fine dining. I thought I
was going to be a fancy chef. But this
is what I grew up doing, and this is
what I sort of ended up doing.”
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