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The Stinky Truth About the South

Updated: Mar 21, 2020

My conversation with a friend on the way to work this morning:

Friend: “So, Katie, what do you have going on this weekend?”

Me: “I’m going to be planning my life.”

Friend: “Oh really?” (sounding more than a little amused) “Well, that sounds a bit overwhelming.”

Me: “Uh, tell me about it. This is about the 10th time I’ve done it only to watch it fall through the cracks in the end. But I keep planning away.”

Friend: “Ok, well good luck with that.” (as she quickly says her goodbyes as she senses the desperation in my voice.)

My weekend plans are to plan my life. Trust me, I’m going into this with the preemptive knowledge that whatever I plan most certainly will not happen. It’s more of a hobby at this point really.

After the day I’ve had, however, it seems I really do need to work on a new plan for my life. I didn’t necessarily have a bad day today. Rather, I had a crappy day. A really, really crappy smelling day. In the form of chitlins and calf nuts. Yeah, you read that right. I didn’t stutter. Chitlins and calf nuts. Today. This happened. To me.

Maybe you ask, what are chitlins? The reason you ask this question is most likely because you’re a Yankee or you are under the age of 30. (The latter part of the theory is formulated from the fact that I’m 30 and I grew up knowing about them, so you’d at least have to be younger than me. A flawless theory.)

Chitlins, or as the more proper folks say, chitterlings, are the intestinal lining of a pig. Yes, the thing that holds their doo-doo. Way back in the historic South, (and obviously in the present day South as well) chitlins were cooked and eaten by poor country folks as a way to eat the whole hog and not waste a thing. I guess I’ve just never been hungry enough. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

I am told you can eat chitlins a variety of ways. Whole chitlins, fried chitlins, chitlins and rice, chitlins on the half shell….ok, ok, now I’m making stuff up. Do not go trying to eat chitlins on the half shell. Regardless, I thought it would be a harmless little dish. How bad could a little pork intestine be? Flavored right and cooked the right way, it couldn’t be too bad, or could it?

In the south we eat lots of strange things. Foods such as pork skins, fish roe, pig feet, eggs and brains. Ok, I don’t eat many of these things, but some people do. People such as the good ole’ country folk that I work with who got a chitlins discussion started in the office one day. I announced I had never had any and it was discovered that a store down the road serves them on a regular basis. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have a truly Southern cultural experience.

Learn from me, people. Learn from me. If you’ve never had chitlins and you’ve ever been tempted to try them, let me spare you. Don’t do it. Not unless you like the idea of eating something that smells like hog crap. And you ain’t smelled poop till you’ve smelled it in a hog barn. Like a blast from my stinky childhood past, the smell came barreling forth from the chitlins towards my nose with the aroma of hog poop. One bite and one smell was all I needed to confirm that these things were not going to be a part of the South’s history that I would ever try to resurrect.

Let the tradition die. End. Fade Away. Disappear. Never to be seen again. For the love of all things beautiful in the South, let us do away with chitlins.

And while we are on the subject of things Southern and pig related and a little off kilter. Is it just me or is “waller” a word that I never heard till I started working in Norman Park, Georgia. Waller: As in to waller in the bed. Or waller like a hog in the mud. It is a word used almost daily in our office and I’m just not sure how comfortable I am with it.

Or how about “along and along”? Used to describe a period of time. Like, if you keep eating chitlins along and along you’ll develop a taste for them. Uh, no I won’t, but you get the point.

As if I hadn’t experimented with enough odd Southern food and stinky smells for one day, I had the pleasure of spending my Friday night helping cut calf nuts. Ok, ok, I wasn’t really helping cut them – more like dodging them as they were being thrown from the calf. True story. You can’t make this stuff up people. We had an impromptu cattle working session at the Murray homestead. Vaccinations, deworming, tagging, and castration are just a few of the things that take place at a Murray calf working session. That and dodging calf nuts on my end.

I ate the part of the pig that holds doo-doo for lunch today. Voluntarily and not under duress. After that, I spent my Good Friday evening dodging calf nuts. Chitlins, calf nuts, and Good Friday – three things that I hope I don’t experience in the same day again.

Now, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll spend my weekend planning my life and reflecting on Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Both options seem more than appropriate at this point.

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