21 April 2008

The Politics of Scrapple

As the Pennsylvania primaries draw near (finally!), let us consider that the fate of the Democratic Party, and possibly the nation, lies in the hands of people who eat scrapple.

As seen in the photograph above, it is innocent-looking stuff, although I hasten to point out that the parsley garnish is not only optional but freakishly rare. I believe that the specimen depicted here is now part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution, where it is kept in a vault, and displayed only to accredited scholars.

According to these experts, or scrappologists, scrapple is made of all the bits of a pig that aren’t fit for any other purpose, including the manufacture of shaving brushes, dog food, footballs, and fertilizer. Scrapple was invented in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Lard, and it remains a popular breakfast treat throughout Pennsylvania, especially in the Amish Country, where it is used to scare off (or kill) tourists.

Gourmet that I am, I have sampled scrapple. I considered it my duty to try it. Exactly once, in Lancaster County, where I have a few relatives among the Pennsylvania Dutch. It was a memorable experience, for as I ate, savoring the rich, smoky warmth that so many generations of my family enjoyed each morning, it was as if I could see my ancestors, dancing before me. Then I helped them to build a barn. The rest is a blank.

Of course, you don’t have to travel to enjoy scrapple. Why not make it yourself, English?

Traditional recipe: Take the aforementioned bits, including the head but setting aside the ears and snout, which are eaten separately in many parts of Pennsylvania. (And in France, by the way.) Throw these pieces into a pot. Boil until the meat falls off the bone, or until the head stops squealing. Next, remove the bones and shred the meat, or just poke at it with a sharp stick. Throw the meat back into the broth, until it is tough and inedible. Add three pounds salt, three pounds corn-like hydrogenated meal-product, plus Scrap-All© instant herbs and spices, including Quik-Thyme©, Basil-Like©, Partially©, Sorta-Soda©, Papri-kinda©, Cumin-oid©, and Verisi-MSG©. Stir vigorously.

Reduce, drain the remaining broth, and fashion a meat loaf with whatever is left. Set aside. Two to six years later, slice the meat loaf. Throw individual slices onto a griddle or into a frying pan coated with suet, preferably rancid. After about three hours, or when the slices become brown and crispy, serve with a big pat of melting creamery butter. Eat, belch, and call your heart specialist.

Important! Many scrapple chefs will deny using bits of hair in the cooking process. They are lying to you, however, in the belief that you’re a wimp. For true scrappologists agree that it is only the hair — that sweet, sweet hair — that gives scrapple its distinctive, felt-like texture. Quite a number of hairs were clearly visible in the scrapple I ate in Lancaster County. If you’re making scrapple at home, remember to set aside the larger bristles: they can be used in brush-making.

Alternative recipe, for those who don’t have all the necessary ingredients: Take one old piece of carpet padding. Dip it in motor oil, add herbs (lawn clippings, cigarette butts) and seasonings (rat poison). Fry until thick clouds of acrid smoke begin to fill your kitchen. Serve, and eat, preferably while watching Babe. Then, and only then, call your heart specialist.

Commercial varieties, particularly including Scrapple Pockets™, Scrapple Whiz™, McScrapple A.M.! Morning Breakfast Loaf™, and Painfully Protracted Death on a Bun™ are to be avoided, as reportedly they use additives.

Clearly, Pennsylvanians are not like the rest of us. Remember that, when the election returns start to come in.