Monday, March 18, 2013

White Trash Delicacies I Ate As A Child

When there was no foie gras, we ate barbecue. From a can.
How was it, you might ask? It's BBQ in a can--how do you think it was? Nasty as hell. It also had little bits of bone and hoof in it. We found a thumbtack in one can.

My white trash childhood menu started with two staples:

White (honky)
bread
Ground beef by the metric fuckton. It took three of us to carry the massive meatlog to the car. You might think storage was a problem but it wasn't. We ate the whole tube in a week.
A lot of it went into hobo dinners. Ground beef, potatoes, onions, carrots. Dump it all in a big tin foil ball and broil like hell. Seems like the foil would be unnecessary unless you're a hobo cooking over an open fire, but hey, it was good so I didn't question it.
Potato sticks in a can = white trash french fries. I saw some in a south Georgia convenience store not too long ago and bought them to see if they were as horrible as I remember. Yep. There were even a couple of burned ones stashed in there, just like the old days. My sister always wanted the burned ones. There was something wrong with her.
"Fish" sticks. Sticks and cans--a big part of my youth. These were 0.5% fish, 95.5% coating. You had to drown them in ketchup to make them edible.
Gubmint muthafuckin cheese. We weren't quite po' enough to qualify--thank goodness, that would be gauche--but our neighbors the Hoods did, so we ate the hell out of some squalor cheese. It lasted forever. Look at this loaf--1954 and still good.
Vienna sausages. Pronounced "VYE-anna" where we lived. My sister loved these but I was never a huge fan. The mealy consistency and the gooey juice gave me pause. They were hard to get out of the can, too. I always thought hot dogs were where all the worst pig parts went, but the parts that weren't good enough for hot dogs went into Vienna sausages. They were like the last stop for pork sphincters and snouts. If you can't make it there, you can't make it anywhere.
Off-brand cola. How can you not buy something called "Dr. Chek"? What balls--they didn't even try to hide what they were doing. Winn-Dixie don't give a shit.
Pineapple sandwiches. A complicated recipe: canned pineapple rings and mayo on honky bread. The first time I saw fresh pineapple, I was like "What the hell is this?"
Hamburger Helper. Gag. I never liked this. When it was served for dinner, I ate my socks instead.
Country fried steak. My favorite. A bad piece of beef coated and fried for 4-5 hours and covered in white gravy to make it edible. I loved it, though. Even now it makes me think of my grandma. She spent her life huddled over a sizzling pan of Crisco--the old lardy kind, not this new crap.

More to come...

25 comments:

  1. Ahh..the memories. Hey, where's the potted meat?

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    1. When I was a kid I loved 'potty' meat. I knew it was crap so that's what I called it.

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  2. I need some Pepto just from reading this. Ugh.

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  3. We use to call the vienna sausages, "poodle peckers" The ones in BBQ sauce were bearable.

    How about Spam, still a delicacy in my house when i can disguise it as something else and the wife and kids dont know that is what they are eating.

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  4. A couple of years ago I bought some of those vienna sausages thinking they would be a nice treat for my dogs. I almost gagged when I opened the can. The dogs wouldn't touch them...they ended up in the trash (where they belong!) At first I thought the pineapple sandwich might be good until I read that you used Mayo. ICK! If it was cream cheese, I would love it! I got heartburn just looking at the picture of the Hamburger Helper. I used to love potato sticks, I liked the darker ones too...but now, not so much. I haven't had them in years. We have chicken fried steak for supper about once a month. That's one of our guilty pleasures. Of course, now we use extra lean beef or pork and fry it in olive oil. Our sad attempt at staying healthy. HA!

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  5. You can still have all these items today. Just stop in at your nearest Cracker Barrel.

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  6. I remember having white bread a lot as a kid until we were in high school and then Mom suddenly started buying whole wheat instead. She made the hobo dinners too, although she usually put roast beef in those instead of ground beef. We also had bologna sandwiches on white bread or sometimes it would be fried bologna. Mom also bought chipped beef in those little packages and made it into gravy and put that over toast sometimes. I hated that stuff. Steak-umms is another item she bought sometimes that I thought was kind of gross. She bought liverwurst and beef tongue for my Dad, but there was no way any of us kids were going to eat that.

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    Replies
    1. What kind of monster doesn't like steak umms?

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  7. When I was a kid Vienna sausages were hurricane food. I bought a can recently when we had our last hurricane approaching. The kids were off school for the day. I opened them up and we each had to take a big bite. They were awful. I actually would eat them when I was a kid. I could barely hold down a bite. My kids all tried them and thought I was nuts.

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  8. Jello, pick a flavour, with canned fruit salad embedded in it. Yarf!

    Squeeze cheese. Came in a clear plastic tube with a red cap in the middle. You cut the platic under the red cap and gave that sucker and good hard squeeze. Made a lovely noise too! Especially the one with little bacon bits in it.

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  9. I'm with your sister, I like the burnt potato chips and sticks. *slowly backing out of the room......

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  10. We had tuna noodle casserole so often when I was a kid that just going past the tuna section in the grocery store makes me want to barf.

    We didn't buy the tubes of ground beef, but we ate our share of Hamburger Helper-I loved it, don't eat it much now though. And I was in college before I realized that hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes was something you ate right before payday.

    Also ate more than my share of 'block cheese' as it was called in my family. (Took me a while to figure that one out too). Considering I was eating it with chip-chopped ham and white bread, it wasn't bad.

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  11. Had no clue that others had some of this stuff as a child as well. Some of this we still eat, but most of it makes me gag today as well. Actually, it's only the Hamburger Helper we still eat today. Some other memories (especially from daycare lunches) is canned fruit cocktail and sloppy joes. Just the thought of a sloppy joe makes me want to hurl. A snack staple growing up was bean dip. I still on occasion want some with a can of Pringles.

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  12. where exactly is Sh*t on the Shingles

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  13. and those potato sticks rip the roof of your mouth like Captain Crunch

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  14. Those canned potatoes are gross. But have you ever heard of oil sausage? One of the ingredients is pig's anus. Says so right on the can. I've never seen it anywhere but Louisiana. My big sister once visited me there from Washington and she was jonesing for oil sausage. When I showed her the ingredients, she got pissed off at me for ruining it. We didn't buy any.

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  15. Love this post, CM! I wish I had more to offer, but I was raised on stir-fried veggies & tofu as well as homemade Italian food. I was robbed!

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  16. I love this post, Cary! :)

    Vienna sausages (pronounced VYE-eenies in AL) were "boat food." My grandma always packed them for days spent on the pontoon (party barge). My grandpa would keep the cans and use them for spitoons for his Red Man. Yes, it was the Yacht Club for sure.

    I still like country fried steak and hobo dinners. And sometimes I crave white Wonder Bread like a hooker on crack.

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  17. I can't believe you kept eating the bbq beef stuff after finding crap in it! This was a stomach turning post fer sure! Thank you!

    I remember eating so much chicken I dreaded it, too! Back then it was the *cheap* meat - cheapest money could buy!

    But mmm the ham jelly... The canned hams that you had to twist that little metal thang around! That was the life! What is that stuff made of? I'm sure I don't want to know...

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  18. Shit on a shingle. Frito pie. Oatmeal for dinner during Lent. Aerosol cheez. The generic plain white label peanut butter that was always creepily chalky. Powder milk. I remember the RC cola... Cup-a-Soup packets. Hormel chili in a can. Tamales from a can (we're Mexican white trash). White bread with mayo and sliced tomato with salt. Off brand cold cereal that came in a bag. Huge can of Tang powder. Kraft Mac N Cheese dinner, I remember my grandma singing the jingle, "Macaroni and cheese!"....Lowry season salt makes me think of my youth....

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  19. Oh shit I can't believe I forgot ambrosia salad. Especially the one with cottage cheese. It was like cottage cheese, jello, cool wip, shredded carrots, pinapple bits and raisins. It was served at EVERY church dinner.

    Also, schlitz beer before it became ironic or hipster or whatever.

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  20. OMG Cary, I love this post so hard. You think I'm a princess but believe me, I ate my share of crap. Bread, butter and sugar sandwiches. Yum. Also Vienna Sausage with mayo on white bread during road trips in the Good Times van, listening to John Denver...

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  21. Sh*t on a shingle - my dad's an old Marine and this is one of his favorites. My mom made a slightly nicer version of this for him when I was a kid. It's chipped beef and white sauce over toast. Another "right before payday" dinner.

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