Early in our relationship my wife and I went to a family cookout where coon was served. This made both of us uncomfortable, but my god, why? Finding and killing a critter that rummages through the garbage, cleaning it, and roasting the shit out of it – that, I thought, is quintessential southern cooking. But apparently, there is more to southern cooking than contracting rabies.
Since then we’ve added two children to our family so that I could experiment with my own dinner creations. Occasionally, my kids will love a particular meal but, of course, when I make it again a bad moon begins to rise, FEMA trailers pull in the driveway, and specialists are dispatched from the Vatican with the tools needed to perform the Rite of Exorcism. But now I know it’s not what’s in the meal that is important, rather its presentation.
So when I stumbled upon a 1976 series of Southern Living cookbooks I knew I’d hit the jackpot. Though we may chastise the music and dress of our former 70s selves, they were onto something when it came to food.
Here are a few recipes that I have resurrected and updated. Bon Appetit!
Iwo Jima Cornish Hens – It might take you a couple of shots to get this one just right – with each hen reaching the top of Mt. Pilaf and holding up weeds from your back yard while trying to shake off the life-preserver glued to its back. But once you do you’ll have an iconic meal that will stay with you forever. Seriously, it will stay lodged in your colon for the rest of your life. But at least that won’t be very long.
BDSM Wild Duck – When you show this recipe to the birds you stole from the local pond, you’ll have to give them the old “Gimp” treatment from Pulp Fiction so they can’t escape. Just tie them down with the rainbow suspenders that you refused to donate to the yard sale and you’ll have yourself a grunting good time.
This one is aptly named, and I’m serious, Lord Jim’s Mincemeat Plum Pudding, referring to Joseph Conrad’s novel Lord Jim. As in his better-known Heart of Darkness (later adapted into the movie Apocalypse Now), Conrad creates a complex psychological landscape. Likewise, the domestic chef must manifest this meal as a metastasizing molten mountain, its true ingredients masked by a mesmerizing maze mold. It should be served with a large jar of stale, crushed Utz pretzels, as pictured.
Roasted Ham with Doo-Doo of Rabbit – Roast the ham on a spit in the fireplace, and towards the end knock it over to give it a nice coating of ash. After letting it sit there awhile and cool off, the kids’ fluffy pet will happily snuggle up and add its natural side-item to this family favorite.
Raw Egg Pie with Murdered Starfish
Emasculated Bulls on the Half-Shell
He Sleeps with Catfishes – As in the old country, loose lips will get you a mouth full of parsley and sunk to the bottom of a nearby body of water. No need to cook here. Just wrap up the raw catfish fillets, toss a shovel load of dirt on top while saying a few Hail Marys, and leave it on the doorstep of your loudmouthed neighbor who will surely get the message.
[p.s. the spawn of this idea came from a book named The Gallery of Regrettable Foods by James Lileks that I saw some years ago. You should check it out. ]