I often watch food shows where some gourmet extols the value of certain regional foods. The food dude will eat eyeballs, fish heads, grasshoppers or jelly fish…basically anything which in some part of the world is considered a delicacy.
I generally cringe when I watch these shows and wonder how the heck can anyone eat that disgusting crap? I don’t have any foods like that in my culture. Do I?
Well there is scrapple.
We mostly had scrapple when visiting my grandparents in south Jersey in the summer. South Jersey has more of a Philadelphia influence than the rest of Jersey and scrapple was a Philly thing. Scrapple is a breakfast treat. In later years we found scrapple offered in supermarkets in central Jersey where we lived.
Scrapple comes in a gelatinous brick blob. It is cut in small quarter inch rectangles and fried until the outside is crisp while the inside is still er…kinda gooey. It is, in our family, traditionally smothered in ketchup and paired with scrambled eggs. It is delicious.
I once asked my dad, “Hey pop, what exactly is scrapple?”
“Well, when a butcher is done for the day, he takes a broom and cleans up. He pushes all the butchered scraps together, adds some fat and some bread crumbs, some spice, stirs it together, molds it into a brick and that is scrapple…made from scraps.”
That sounded disgusting, and I assumed my pop was just goofing. It never deterred me from enjoying several slices at breakfast whenever it was offered.
Then I did a little Wikipedia research:
Scrapple is typically made of hog offal, such as the head, heart, liver, and other trimmings, which are boiled with any bones attached (often the entire head), to make a broth. Once cooked, bones and fat are removed, the meat is reserved, and (dry) cornmeal is boiled in the broth to make a mush. The meat, finely minced, is returned to the pot and seasonings, typically sage, thyme, savory, black pepper, and others are added. The mush is formed into loaves and allowed to cool thoroughly until set. The proportions and seasoning are very much a matter of the region and the cook's taste.
OMG! That is basically what my pop told me.
So when I watch these food wack jobs shoveling down raw fish guts, bull nads, hundred-year-old moldy cheese and gush about how delicious it all is, I think,
“You think that is weird, in Jersey and Philly we have scrapple!”