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I was in the throes of some more deep thinking ... that happens when the fish aren’t biting ... and I got to wondering why some foods tend to be seasonal for some folks.
For instance, typically many people in the South eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. They season them with hog jowl (hog jaw for those who don’t know). and quite often the side dish is turnips of collards.
Well, I eat these foods all year. And yes, in keeping with tradition we particularly make sure that’s what we have on New Year’s Day. There are lots of tales about why the black-eyed peas thing came to be, but like I said, this is regular fare at our house.
Now I don’t go for the hog jowl. The reason is simple. There’s no lean meat on it. Instead at our house we use ham hock to season the peas. For those who don’t know what a ham hock is, it’s hog ankle.
You may notice that we tend to give foods other names for purely aestheical reasons. For instance, “rump roast” sounds better than “beef behind.” And then some people go to a fancy restaurant and order “escargo” instead of “slug on the half-shell.”
Being as we have just come through the holiday season, I would assume that most of the fruitcake has been eaten or hidden somewhere. So why is fruitcake mostly a Thanksgiving and Christmas food? Is it not good any other time of year? Or maybe I should ask, “Is it good any time of year?”
Then we have turkey. Why is it considered the centerpiece at Thanksgiving? Also, some people only eat chili in the winter. Yet they will eat a chili-dog anytime during the year. Go figure.
I would estimate that most pecan pie is centered around the holidays as well. Also, sweet potato and pumpkin pie. Yet chocolate cake can go anytime. Maybe the same people who decided that you should not wear white after Labor Day got in on that committee that did the pecan pie thing.
I guess the “white-after-Labor- Day” rule offers an exception for eskimos and lab technicians. I dunno.
Thank God the pilgrims didn’t fry any chicken on that First Thanksgiving. I had never really thought about it until now but I don’t think there were any wild chickens running around Plymouth Rock. What would we compare all other foods to if we only ate fried chicken at Thanksgiving?
And I don’t care how many survival shows you may watch, don’t believe it if someone tells you that rattlesnake taste just like chicken. I’ve eaten fried rattlesnake (once), and it taste like rattlesnake.
Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re stranded in the wilderness and your choice is rattlesnake or larvae from a rotten log, I would go with rattlesnake. In a survival situation, one has to apply martial arts — not in the vein of defending yourself against wild critters but in the venue of mind over matter. You have to think only in terms of protein and being around for the next Super Bowl game. It may look bad and even taste bad, but if it’s not poisonous and is digestible just give it a French name, yell “Charles DeGaulle” and shove it down the hatch.
One of my biggest problems is that I’ve met few foods I didn’t like. The list is short but it includes oatmeal. I know oatmeal is good for me but I’m still working on that mind-over-matter thing. I will say, though, that it’s better than rattlesnake.
And I’ve just discovered something ... even when I think about disgusting foods, it makes me hungry. In a simialr vein, as much as Congress disgusts me, I realize it’s better than what other countries have. But this year they remind me of the day I ate rattlesnake.