As anyone who knows me will attest, by far the smartest thing I’ve ever done was to convince Cynthia Ann Miller to marry me. Cynthia’s been good for me in any number of ways, not least of which involves my eating habits. A little background first. My mother was a wonderful woman, and I always looked forward to mealtimes at our house. But Mom wasn’t exactly what you’d call avant-garde when it came to things culinary. Simply put, she was firmly entrenched in the meat-and-potatoes school of What’s for Dinner, and she definitely wasn’t one to experiment with sauces and such. Thus, while I never left one of my mother’s meals feeling anything but satisfied and full, I also was never aware of what lay beyond the horizon, gastronomically speaking. Enter Cynthia. Early on in our relationship, she was somewhat surprised by the fact that I’d never had spaghetti or strawberry shortcake (or strawberry anything) or pizza or cheesesteak sandwiches. I also wasn’t a fan of most vegetables (other than raw carrots) or anything with onions. Oh, and I hadn’t tried pierogies, which is considered almost a sin in some sections of Pittsburgh.
Slowly but surely, over the years, Cynthia has worked wonders with me. I now eat almost all of the above, and I’m willing to try just about anything once. Just about. Which brings me to Peters Brothers Meat Market in Lenhartsville, PA, just a short hop from Kutztown, where my wife grew up. When we go to Kutztown to visit Cynthia’s family, we usually stop at Peters Brothers to pick up some of their delicious summer sausage to bring back home. But when we’re there, I also find myself staring at the big display board listing their various products, including scrapple, cow’s tongue, pig’s feet, calf’s brains, pickled kidneys, tripe and souse meat. On my first trip there, I remember turning to my wife and asking, “Is this a joke? Something the locals do for giggles whenever a city boy comes in?” She assured me that everything on that board was a for-real edible thing. Worse, she informed me that she had personally consumed some of them. Specifically, the scrapple (scraps of meat made into a semi-congealed loaf). I told Cynthia this was information one would have preferred to have had available prior to a proposal, but she ignored me (happens a lot) as she got into a discussion with the butcher, an old high school friend of hers.
At some point over the years, curiosity got the better of me, and I looked up a couple of those display board delicacies. Souse meat, in case you were wondering (and you’re gonna wish you hadn’t) consists of tongues, pig’s ears and feet and pork snout. (I swear I’m not making this up.)
I was also curious about tripe. I mean, it doesn’t sound very appetizing, but I was willing to be open-minded, so recently I looked it up online, and here’s what I learned . . . wait, you should remove small children and anyone faint of heart from the room first . . . okay, ready? Tripe is the first or second stomach of a cow or other ruminant used as food. Apparently, the second stomach is “the most coveted of the stomachs.” Frankly, the stomach of yours truly is experiencing a few flip-flops just putting those words down on paper.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m willing to try almost anything once. Sometimes I like stuff, sometimes I don’t. A long time ago, at a wedding reception, I mistakenly scooped up what I thought was some sort of chocolate syrup onto a piece of cake. That was a huge mistake. What I’d just slathered over my cake was a dark-colored topping heavy on anchovies. Cynthia says she’ll never forget the look on my face as I took that first big bite.
The anchovy debacle aside, I’ll still give most foods a preliminary taste. However, I do have my limits. Cynthia continues to periodically urge me to give scrapple a go. Yeah, that’ll happen right after I get outside of some bovine tootsies.
Robert Germaux is a multi-genre author of seven published books. All of his books are available on Amazon.
Bob is currently offering free review copies of his latest book, More Grammar Sex, to anyone who’s willing to read and (hopefully) review the book. He has a limited number of books available. If you’re willing to read and (hopefully) review More Grammar Sex please contact Bob at germaux1 at aol dot com.