I’ll be skipping the chittlins this year
Hopefully by the time this edition of the newspaper hits the stands, I will be enjoying a pot of hot cabbage and black eyed peas for the new year.
It is a tradition that has been in my family for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, the new year would begin the same way.
I would awake to the smell of cabbage boiling in a pot with bits of ham floating to the surface. To most people, the smell of cabbage is enough to make you run towards the woods. But I love it for some strange reason.
I have heard many people say they could make a meal out of a pot of greens and cornbread. Well, I am like that with cabbage.
The smell of black-eyed peas would be circling through the house as well. But it didn’t throw such cravings on me.
Every New Year’s Day since I was old enough to remember a memory, I had black eyed peas and cabbage. My family believed it was the only way for health and wealth in the new year.
It is a tradition that I have carried over into my own family. I think I am the only one who really enjoys it, but I wouldn’t be caught dead without a bowl of the two vegetables on New Year s Day.
I am not sure how true the saying really is. I have ate a ton of cabbage and not received much money through the year. But I am not taking my chances.
The idea of the New Year’s feast had me thinking about other family traditions that have been passed down and new ones that have only just begun.
Growing up, most family traditions centered around food. Whether it was necessary or not, my family was gonna find some kind of way to incorporate a dish into any event or gathering.
The Jackson family reunion was the perfect example. Every October, the Jackson clan gathers up, mingles, shares a few laughs, passes on a few hugs and always eats. Aside from favorites that every family reunion has like chicken or green beans, the Jacksons put a twist on it.
As soon as you pull up to the Jackson reunion, the smell usually hits you right in the face. The smell of chittlins is that aroma.
I despise chittlins. I don’t quite understand them. I don’t really want to know what they are made of entirely. I don’t see how the smell alone doesn’t drive folks away.
But my family, for some reason, loves them. And they don’t fry them. They boil them. To me, that is just added to their ickness.
I have always been told my Paw Paw and his family grew up on anything that came from a pig. When they slaughtered a pig, they kept everything for the supper table. They had to because times were so tough.
My cousin even told me chittlins were considered an expensive delicacy.
But how chittlins remained on our menu years later simply baffles me.
I tried some the year before last. Not sure what to expect, I shoved a piece in my mouth. It was so chewy, I felt like a dog grinding on a toy. And the grease alone was a taste that makes me sick to my stomach.
I didn’t finish the piece and quickly threw it away as my family taunted me, calling me a chicken. I didn’t care. I could stand being a chicken.
The Jacksons also have a tradition of boiling peanuts every reunion. I don t mind that at all because I love boiled peanuts. I will sit in the shade with my bag full of peanuts and eat until I am about to pop.
The chittlins can be saved for the older generation in my opinion.
Now that I have a family of my own, I plan to start our own traditions. I won’t mind fixing a pot of cabbage or peas for the New Year. I won’t mind pulling a bag of peanuts out of the freezer to honor the Jackson name.
But I am not too sure about the chittlins. Some traditions should retire with a little dignity, especially French delicacies.