So we ate pork chops fried. We also ate fried chicken. I always got a drumstick. I have to say though there wasn’t much to these chickens. They had been out running around in the yard a little before you ate them, and being all active like that they just didn’t build up much. Like two bites and the meat would be all off, it seemed like. So that’s when I got into the habit of also eating the gristle part of the drumstick. It was chewy and if I was feeling particularly famished I would break open the bone and scoop out the marrow. Not everybody does that.
When we were done with a chicken there wasn’t anything left. The old man gnawed through the neck and back and we ate the livers; about all we didn’t eat was the gizzard and what we called the Pope’s nose that was this flap of fat that was over the chicken’s a-hole. I didn’t know what a Pope was back then so I didn’t know I was insulting anybody when I called the a-hole flap the Pope’s nose.
In addition to fried chicken we ate fried ham. I liked the ham part but not always what went along with it which was black eyed peas. The old man liked those though; a huge pot of them was usually made up with the ham bone; and the old lady would make up a black eyed pea sauce to pour over the black eyed peas. This was made of canned tomatoes with lots of salt and pepper and a whole cup of sugar poured into it and then boiled down. I didn’t like that stuff at all. And when the old man ran out of ham to eat the beans with, he would eat it with whatever there was and to get a little ham into the mix he would polish it off with pickled pigs’ feet.
And we also had chicken fried steak. This wasn’t chicken and I really don’t think it was steak either. I guess it came from a cow but calling it steak seemed a bit too fancy for what was this flat flappy piece of meat with all sorts of sinews and gristle and shit running through it. To make it eat ready, the old lady would pound it with a hammer that was made for hammering meat. She called this “tenderizing.” After it had been tenderized, the big flappy piece was cut up, dipped in egg and then in flour and then fried. The only way it was like chicken was that it was prepared like chicken and fried like chicken.
All of these fried meats came with rice. The old lady used Minute Rice, though way back then I don’t expect it was minute rice, but more like five minute or even ten minute rice. I don’t know but I expect it wasn’t as fast as today. And with the rice would come gravy that was made from the grease of whatever had been fried. So technically we had chicken grease gravy and chicken fried steak grease gravey. And you could make a gravey out of ham too though it tended to be thin and pretty watery.
Fat or grease was not to be wasted. Once many years later in college I fried up a pork chop for a friend who had stopped by, and I couldn’t the fuck believe it when he sat there and all dainty like cut the fat off the pork chop. I mean, hell, doing that reduced the pork chop by a third—because he cut away the bone too and would not stoop to gnaw on it after—and besides that was the best part. Honestly, I was a bit insulted like the guy seemed to think he was too good for a pork chop or at least parts of it.