Chitterlings give new meaning to the term ‘biohazard odors’
By: By PETTUS L. READ Tennessee Farm Bureau
As the weather turns somewhat colder, I am often reminded of the annual chitlin supper that used to occur every January at my community school. It was held to raise funds for the school and often became the location for an evening of political campaigning during election years. It was sort of like the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucus all rolled into one large gathering for county candidates. Anyway you looked at it, pork was involved one way or another. And it also took a lot of “guts” to eat or hold the event each year. The aroma was something to behold.
About two years after I graduated high school, our county got involved in school consolidation and my community school, along with the chitlin supper, went out of existence. That was over 35 years ago and now everyone is moving away and going back to more community schools. However, there must be those who still remember the smells involved in preparing the main ingredient for a chitlin supper and have not attempted to return to those days of swine intestinum ingestation.
The other night I was reminded of those annual suppers while attending a community meeting in another city. During a local civic club meeting, a group of men were excited about and discussing the details of an upcoming chitlin supper to be held in a neighboring community. They could hardly wait for the doors to open in the community center for the Saturday night event. I have personally attended these hog intestine eating suppers and never have developed a taste or smell for their consumption. However, there are many folks who do and if that is what they enjoy doing, more power to them.
Whether you call them chitlins or chitterlings, the aroma is still the same. When you drive in the parking lot, you immediately know you have arrived as the smell of cooked hog intestines drifts through the night air. The important thing to remember is, never stand down-wind from cooking chitlins.
This “fabulous” food can be consumed either fried or boiled. Fried looks sort of like breaded chicken or fish. Boiled looks like boiled intestines. This, in itself, should tell you something.
The one thing I have noticed at these suppers is the large consumption of hot sauce. I guess it helps with the taste or burns your taste buds so badly you really can’t realize what you are eating. And, believe me, chitlins do not taste like chicken. Maybe more like a by-product of chickens, but not a thing like chicken.
But, these affairs can be fun at times if you take the fun in the right spirit of the occasion. During one of the suppers I attended as a kid, I watched our county judge slip a few grains of shelled corn on the plate of his competition for his office next election day. His fellow candidate for judge was not much of a chitlin eater to begin with and was only there to prove to folks he was worth their effort to vote for. When he turned around and saw that yellow corn laying next to those chitlins, his interest in country eating went astray. The odor, the food’s presentation and now the corn’s suggestion of the product’s cleanliness, caused that candidate to express his regrets and head for the nearest door. And he lost the race that year for judge as well.
There are just some odors you never forget. Like the smell of a polecat on a frosty night, your gym locker at the end of school full of gym clothes you never carried home, Blue Waltz perfume and cooked chitlins. I would have to put Blue Waltz right up there with the smell of a dead horse and a polecat, but chitlins are in a category of their own.
I never see Blue Waltz anymore, thank goodness. But, chitlin suppers are still around. All you need to eat a good batch is a bottle of hot sauce, a very bad cold that stops up your head as tight as cheap underwear and a buddy claiming that eating them will make a man out of you, and you are on your way.
It is amazing how certain things stay with us. Maybe I’m different than others by remembering odors, but once you have lived them, it is hard to forget them.
Chitlins and Blue Waltz I will never forget.
Pettus L. Read is editor of the Tennessee Farm Bureau News and director of communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 1.15.08