Sunday, October 16, 2011

Metaphors mixed, with salt

Of all the ways to exit this world – drinking, fast cars, lion taming, rock climbing – mine will probably be death by liverwurst.

I’m not sure about the exact components of liverwurst, though grease plays the starring role. I’m guessing the ingredients are something like fat, fat, fat, fat, fat , fat, pig organs, fat. Bucking the tide of current nutritional wisdom, I take mine with a dollop of mayonnaise.

It’s my comfort food. What we ate as kids, after a long day skiing. It warmed us up, along with a thermos of tea and a hit of brandy if we complained our toes were cold. My toes were always cold.

At every new school, my sister and I were the pumpernickel kids. The ones who unwrapped sandwiches of thick black bread slathered in suspicious meat bi-products and fragrant cheese, while everyone else tucked into peanut butter and fluffernutter. And just to make sure we could strike the gong on the cholesterol scale, my mom topped it all off with a hard-boiled egg.

Probably I was so popular because I never asked to trade lunch.

Last week, I loaded the fridge with all the foods of my childhood. Let me tell you, that shit tastes foul. I didn’t remember it was quite that bad -- a frontal assault when I opened the refrigerator door. Now even the cream in my coffee carries a whiff of Braunschweiger.

I’ve sworn off equating life to a deck of cards. Though I’m not sure why, because life is like a deck of cards. If you hang around for awhile, you’ll learn to play all sorts of hands. You have to. Sometimes your cards will be sweet, so sweet, and sometimes they’ll just smell like liver. It’s my personal opinion that any hand falling between these two extremes will benefit by a certain amount of bluffing.

32 comments:

  1. My mother used to make me peanut butter and mayonaise sandwiches. When I tell that to people, they are grossed out. But none of them have every had a PBM sandwich. Try it, you might like it. The mayo provides the grease needed to keep the peanut butter from sticking to the roof of your mouth.

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  2. Eeuw.

    I've always had a strong sense of taste and smell. It's a curse. Many foods are just too much. I almost starved in Paris, if you can believe that. I ate sweets and lettuce and drank coffee.

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  3. Yes, and always keep an eye on the dealer.

    GG

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  4. I've never knowingly had liverwurst, and after this less-than-ringing endorsement I doubt I ever will. I can understand the desire to indulge in childhood comfort food though. I don't remember getting asked to exchange lunches as a kid as I usually had PB&J on homemade bread with thick crusts, carrot slices and an apple. And I would never have considered giving away my homemade chocolate chip cookies.

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  5. Just a minute here, I grew up on liverwurst sandwiches (Braunschweiger) and while I could I ate them with mustard, grew into thin sliced onions, and mustard and thought it was the best thing ever. I hadn't bought any for years, but then had a dog fussy eater and I got some wurst to cut up for his kibble. He Loved it! Smelled real good to me too, so I started eating it on. . . saltines . .just excellent is what that is. Liverwurst, I'm back! Hold the raw onions though, can't do those anymore.

    Your Mom from the Midwest by any chance?

    Cheers, Jo from MN

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  6. Oooh, I didn't see the bluffing conclusion coming. I like it.

    I too have lost a little, only a little, of my weakness for evil foods. Do you think it's aging taste buds or social conditioning? Liverwurst . . . sorry. As usual, you're more hardcore.

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  7. My dad ate liverwurst with fig newtons and I think it's had a lasting negative effect on me - that's just not right. Children shouldn't have to endure those kinds of traumas.

    As for nursery food, well, it's all such a comfort to remember. Today, bologna and mayo makes me gag but I lived on that stuff growing up and thought it was nectar. I still love mac and cheese though and my mom's was absolutely hands down the best. I've never tasted anyone's that was half as good and I can still see her standing at the stove making it.

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  8. that shit does taste foul! Or at least tasteless. I waited 40 years to taste a Twinkie again. No creamy goodness, no heavenly aroma or richness. Just plastic. But liverwurst. Back when, it tore apart the white bread. Now the bread is sturdy. That slime rules!

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  9. Well, DB, I had a friend devoted to peanut butter with Miracle Whip. And she lived to tell the tale.

    Petrea, I think you're the only friend I ever had who didn't particularly like cheese. I'm sure you wouldn't be a convert to liverwurst.

    GG, I try, for all the good that does.

    Katie, Now see, anything salty with anything sweet -- like peanut butter with apple -- seems so exotic to me.

    Hi Stella. My parents came from Norway. My father was city folk, but my mom hailed from Ulefoss; I guess that explains the meat selection. You and I should break bread.

    Banjo, badass. I'm a bad pork ass.

    Paula, we are kindred spirits. Liverworst and fig newtons, that's just wrong, for so many reasons. But the mac and cheese sounds appealing. Nursery food, indeed.

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  10. Oh, Kenny Mac. We'll break bread with Stella.

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  11. I like cheese. But, you know, cheddar. Colby.

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  12. Just back in from the land of Altadena. And one thing I've learned & seen from those parts is that comfort food is good when going through uncomfortable times. Not that I need that as an excuse

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  13. Comfort foods, I get it. My mom made peanut butter sandwiches for me and all the other kids with burritos and the like looked at me in a funny way.
    Liverwurst, braunschweiger, and other processed meats are not part of my comfort food vocabulary. I don't look down my nose at them. I love menudo.

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  14. My Japanese lunch box included hard-boiled eggs, too. But we got riceballs instead of liverwurst. Not sure which is worse as kids.

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  15. Spaghetti sandwiches. Mother believed in carbs.

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  16. I prefer the sweet hands - the easy way out - the road less taken - cotton candy without consequence.

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  17. P, I was going to say something rude about those individually wrapped American cheese slices, but decided against it.

    Cafe, true. I think I can guess yours.

    LH and Kaori, our mothers just didn't understand the politics of lunch.

    PA, cotton candy always looked so much more promising than it tasted.

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  18. You can say it. I scorn fake cheese.

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  19. I like a juicy chicken.

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  20. With French fries and lettuce salad with thousand island dressing.

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  21. Your opening reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

    What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?
    --Lin Yutang

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  22. Ha, the crap our mothers convinced us to love, eh? It was cod roes, lamb hearts and pigs trotters in our house (thank GOD I never took packed lunches to school). My kids get totally grossed out when I hanker back to the good old days..

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  23. And never , ever forget a dollop of mayo makes it slide down easier.
    V

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  24. And i liked liverwurst as a kid too but never touch the stuff now.
    V

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  25. GROAAAANNN. I'm a Braunschweiger (I grew up in Brunswick, Germany) and the stuff you call liverwurst here bears no resemblance to the delicious, fat-spiked Leberwurst of my home city. Not even the kind they sell in Schreiners, Montrose. So you all need to visit Brunswick to taste the real thing. it's wonderful.

    If we're talking childhood comfort food, my favorite was the sandwich my granny lowered down on string to me from her 3rd floor apartment to the playground below so I didn't have to go upstairs to eat when I was playing out with my friends. It was German rye bread with a thick layer of butter and a sprinkling of salt. Or bread with home-made goose-fat Schmalz with roast onions. Yummy!!

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  26. My standard lunch was bologna on toasted raisin bread with butter. Gross, I know, but I loved it. I loved liverwurst, too, but I'll pass on both now.

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  27. Once in a blue moon I'll buy a small amount of liverwurst. I can only handle it with lots of mustard. Liverwurst is a lower form of pate I guess.

    When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes give me liverwurst sandwiches. I hated them, and I hated myself for having them. Se also made me cream cheese and jelly sometimes. Hated it, and hated myself. Other days she'd give me normal sandwiches. It was all very unpredictable. I don't believe I ever told her not to give me the ones I didn't like. I figured that life was a series of random rewards and punishments with no rhyme nor reason.

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  28. Des, that's a great quote. And now you and Bellis can discuss schmalz. You are the only two that know it as a food group.

    Shrinky, I wonder if my popularity would have survived pig trotters.

    Virg, per Bellis, I think we need a trip to Germany.

    Susan, as these comments go, I think your bologna and raisin bread get a pass.

    Earl, I saw this as a panel of cartoons (the good kind). That's so dear.

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  29. Thats so funny, once I year I still need to eat a liverwurst, and swiss cheese sandwich on rye bread. ((hugs)) to you as you rmember Phoebe, I know its hard.

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  30. Beautiful. Poignant. Gut-cracking.
    Aren't food memories always like that?

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  31. My parents ate Braunschweiger when I was a kid...never could get myself to try it...after all, I preferred spam...

    That said, isn't it funny that when my mom began making liver pate...I could devour that without hesitation!!!

    And no...I've not had nor will I ever eat a pb and mayo sandwich!!!

    Hiker...did your parents eat Kippers too??? (those used to make me gag just looking at them!!!)

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  32. Some years ago, I helped out at a school end of year party. The theme was fear factor. A gal brought in a bunch of things the kids might fear eating. I'll tell you, the one thing they couldn't stomach: liverwurst.

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