I was watching a television show called Bizzarre foods with Andrew Zimmern a few nights ago. He is a delightful host who finds all kinds of ethnic foods in our of the way places. It reminded me of my youth, reared by depression era, rural background parents who frequently referred to, and occasionally cooked, vittles that are not so popular nowadays. Liver and onions were pretty ordinary, then there was braunswager, scrapple, and head cheese. At times it was a regular organ recital including tripe, sweetbreads, and other meats that would likely spoil the appetite of the fast fried food folk used to milk shakes and chicken nuggets. The old folks would, as they said, use everything but the squeal and the tail when butchering a hog. Now, after being introduced to Menudo, tripas, machitos and mollejas I find that my own diet had diverged quite a bit from the deep fat vat. As a case in point, one of my favorite snacks is mountain oysters. It's an old cowboy favorite at brandings. The process of making steers out of bull calves produces a wonderful trove of hors d'oeuvres. It takes a little work with a sharp knife to peel the light pink mushy stuff out of the tough fibrous coating, but from there it's easy to roll the little jewels in cornmeal and salt and pepper and fry them up, or just put them on a piece of bailing wire and do shish kebab in the propane flame of the branding iron heater. Reminds me of the Canadian cowboy who disappeared from the round up crew. The first night he'd asked what what he was eating. He was OK with the answer – calf fries. The next day when the cook was asked where Frenchy was he shrugged and said he left on a fast horse after he told him it was to be french fries for supper!
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