It’s time for another Gourmet Gerde!
Let’s talk about saving money. When I was five my father retired from the Air Force. He went from a Master Sergeant’s pay to going to the University of Arkansas to earn his degree in Journalism. My mom is the thriftiest person I know. We, like those third world children in the Unicef commercials, lived on pennies a day. We, like those third world children in the Unicef commercials, ate food ladeled from a community pot. We, like those third world children, had distended bellies. But that wasn’t from malnutrition. It was mainly because, at a young age, we ate like truckers. Mom was hard pressed to come up with an affordable menu that wasn’t just beans, beans, and more beans.
We did the endless peanut butter sandwiches. We did the poke salat picked from a roadside ditch. We shopped at roadside stands. We canned. We did A LOT of soups. Most adults growing up under such restrictions would thoroughly enjoy an eating disorder or two. Not us. Not me or my two brothers. Unless you count our aversion to Velveeta and our tendency to gravitate toward buffets a disorder.
All was generally well until Mom got the idea to educate us on the delicacies of the world. Belgium, Spain, Mexico, Romania, Germany, Portugal, Persia, Canada, and Albania enjoy eating cow tongues. Americans, for the most part, do not. (Except when it’s disguised in McFood.) That is why most butchers in this country give it away for free. My mother zeroed in on the free and had one wrapped up to take home.
I was seven-years-old when I first ate cow’s tongue. I came home from school, passed the kitchen, and was struck by a smell. It was a cross between old sofa cushion and acid. Deciding to investigate, I tiptoed toward the massive pot on the burner, listened to the thunking noise of something bobbling inside, and lifted the lid. I did not have to ask what it was. It was obvious. And it looked torn from the cow, roots and all. I was especially enamored with the grey froth building like bubble bath on the water’s surface.
It never dawned on me that we were going to have to EAT it in mustard sandwiches. I didn’t even like mustard. When we started crying, Mom informed us that it was a delicacy. It took us over an hour and a half to finish our individual sandwiches. Mainly because we couldn’t think of a way to dispose of it without being caught. The toilet wasn’t going to work since the septic tank backed up during every rain storm. We envisioned slices of tongue surfing the poop into the hallway. The trash wasn’t a viable dumping place either. Even though my brothers were the ones to take out the trash, we knew our mother was omniscient. She would discover it even if we buried it under the potato peelings. Besides, she kept popping into the kitchen, expecting to catch us in such a maneuver.
I will now share my recipe for tongue sandwiches.
1) Visit a butcher. Ask for offal. Chances are you will get a free tongue.
2) Boil it in a pot. You do not have to peel it. The boiling water will kill the germs.
3) When it is tender enough to bend, but not tender enough to chew quickly, sharpen a knife on a steel rasp, and slice, starting at the tip. Leave the roots and gray froth for soup.
4) Spread yellow mustard on slices of Roman Meal bread and cover half of the slices with tongue. Make sure that every part of the bread is covered. Under no circumstances are you to leave a sliver of bread untouched. It is perfectly acceptable if swirls of tongue hang out. It will only add to the dining experience.
5) Put on paper plates and summon the family.
Do not worry if your children take days to eat it. It only means they are unappreciative. Or they come from inferior stock, probably from your mate’s side.
And now for another recipe, donated by a Ron Dyer, a bachelor who watches a lot of TV.
(One average-sized graham cracker pie crust)
1 8oz package of cream cheese
One-third cup of lemon juice, reconstituted or fresh squeezed
1 tablespoon of vanilla flavoring
1 can of condensed, sweetened milk
1 ripe banana, sliced
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
Put the first four ingredients (not the pie crust, of course) in a blender and blend until smooth. Spread the banana slices on the bottom of the crust, spread half of the blender mixture on top, spread the chopped strawberries on top of that, then finish with the rest of the blender mixture. Cover and chill in the fridge for 3 hours.
Do you have any of your own food stories you want to share? You could even tell us about your favorite food. It’s all good.
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