11 February 2017

What Would You Eat If....

In this blog, I often talk about foods that I eat--and have eaten--before, during and after rides.

I got to thinking about that while reading something that appeared in my mailbox:  The Worst Foods To Eat In Every State.

Now, even for someone with my refined sensibilities (Yes, I typed that with a straight face!), such a title is "click bait". I am sure that Wil Fulton, the author of that article, or the editors of the "Thrillist" website know as much.

Of course, "worst" can be interpreted in all sorts of ways.  Mr. Fulton seemed to use the term to mean "whatever looks or sounds grossest to someone who's never eaten it before".  And, I have to admit, I probably would have to be stranded in North Dakota before I'd try lutefisk.  On the other hand, Illionois Gravy Bread doesn't sound any different from what I've eaten during, or at the end of, many a meal:  bread used as a sponge for gravy or meat drippings.  Nothing wrong with that.  But people actually have it delivered?

Anyway, I've eaten a few of the items in that article--yes, before, during and after bike rides.  Interestingly, even though I lived in Brooklyn until I was twelve--and have lived in New York City since I was twenty-five--I have eaten the Garbage Plate proper (Is that an oxymoron?) only twice in my life, both times during bike trips upstate.

This is what you eat during a ride in New Jersey

One food I often ate during rides, as well as devant and apres, is Pork Roll.  No one in my family, or I, had even heard of it while we were living in Brooklyn.  But, after we moved to New Jersey, it became a staple of our diets.  Of course, I didn't see it when I was living in France, but even after I moved to New York during the mid-80s, no one in the Big Apple seemed to know about it--or they thought it was something pornographic.

Now stores in this town are selling it.  I think people here were introduced to it a few months ago, when Dunkin' Donuts offered a "limited-time special" sandwich that included it. When I was living in The Garden State, I often had the "Jersey Classic"--a sandwich of pork roll, egg and cheese--at diners, coffee shops and roadside stands during rides.  

What does pork roll taste like?  Some might say it's a better version of Spam, or a milder version of their favorite ham.   It really tastes better than it sounds:  It's pork with a nice combination of sweet and mild spices with salt. 

Is it "healthy"?  Of course not!  (Well, as a "comfort food", perhaps it's good for your mental health.) But I have eaten all manner of pizzas and baked goods during rides, not to mention chili, burgers, tacos, take-out Chinese foods and such delicacies as the jambon-beurre.

By the way:  I have eaten scrapple, the Pennsylvania Dutch-country "mystery meat".  It's actually pretty good--though, I confess, I prefer good ol' Jersey Pork Roll.  Or jambon-beurre.


  1. The whole purpose of travel is to experience new places and what better way than to eat the local food. It does not always go easily, I ordered andouillettes de Troyes several times and the waiters nearly had a fit! The last time he went round every other customer asking if they knew what the English for this dish was but strangely they were all Fench and had no idea... Reluctantly the dish was served, I got free seconds because I enjoyed it so much. Frogs legs, snails etc was the reason I did not pay any attention to learning French, now it is my favourite country and I try anything they offer...

  2. My wifes family is French. Her mother Genevive and uncle Jules were children of the depression. One of the dishes they remember their mother making was beef kidneys over polenta, which is a straight up French peasant dish. Once in a while my wife will make it for them (guess who has to clean the kidneys?). While eating once Jules leans over to me and asks"do you know the best way to cook kidneys?". Being quick of wit I say something clever like"uh, no". He then leans over with a twinkle in his eye amd says" why you boil the piss outta them of course".

    1. Almost before I could walk I had the local butcher trained to save me a lamb's kidney. Why can't scientists do something useful with genetic engineering like get six or eight kidneys in each beast?

      I was just about to head for my bed but now my juices are rumbling!

  3. Phillip and Coline--It's funny how the French are so (justly) renowned for their food, yet much of it consists of things that many people would consider unappetizing.

    I think food holistically. Still, I don't see myself eating lutefisk any time soon. On the other hand, I wouldn't turn down an andouillette de Lyon!

    About peasant cuisine: Part of my ancestry is Sicilian. On the island, there's something called "cucina de mizhou." When the French conquered Sicily in the 12th Century, the upper-class families hired Sicilian peasants to cook for them. The result was such dishes as Farsumagru, a stuffed beef roll that is derived from French roules.

  4. It's funny, no matter what sort of "innards dinner" you"re talking about it always sounds so much more refined when you say it in French.

  5. Just looked up the recipe for farsumagru. Looks awesome! May have to try it next weekend. I'm starting to feel like I'm on Tony Bourdain's blog. Haha.

  6. Haggis "great chieftain o' the pudding-race." Scotland's contribution to haute cuisine... my Scots father would nae ha't.
    He'd've neeps and tatties.

    1. There is little to beat sheep lungs and any other unsaleable bit chopped up, stuffed into a sheep's stomach and given a good boil. Hang on, I nearly forgot black pudding made from blood... Nothing goes to waste here.

  7. Phillip--I confess: I am Tony Bourdain--on a bike!

    Mike--I have heard all kinds of stories--some of the scariest from Scots themselves--about what is in Haggis.

    Coline--I think that's the premise behind peasant (and other poor people's) food in much of the world: Use whatever comes to hand, and don't let anything go to waste. As in the case of farsumagru, such foods seem to become "gourmet" items when rich people start eating them.