Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I like liverwurst. Deal with it, motherfuckers!

I was in West L.A. this morning to get my hair cut. I haven’t lived on the Westside for five years... but the guy knows my head, and I’m averse to forming new tonsorial relationships.

Anyway, whenever I go for a cut, I’ll pop over to Junior’s Delicatessen for a bite to eat. If I feel like lunch, as opposed to breakfast, I’ll get the liverwurst on rye. Sliced yellow onion, stone-ground mustard... bam, that’s a good sandwich. (Goes right nice with a cream soda.)

When I was a kid, my dad used to snack on what seemed like the grossest foodstuffs in America. Blue cheese. Pickled pigs feet. Souse. (Y’all hip to souse? Also called “head cheese.”)

Then there was kipper snacks – canned herrings that Daddy would mash up with mayonnaise and relish and spread over Ritz crackers. Oh, how he delighted himself with that crap.

And, yes, Daddy liked liverwurst, though he preferred to call it braunschweiger. Only since moving to L.A. and getting my deli on at Junior’s did I acquire a taste for it.

I’ve done the kipper-snacks thing too, I won’t lie. Maybe I’ll try to find me some souse... though it’s hard enough trying to find scrapple out here in So Cal. (In fact, I haven’t.)

I never felt close to my dad. We were so wide apart in age; he was 51 when I was born. It was like being raised by a grandparent. He grew up in the country. His sensibilities were shaped by the Great Depression.

He never understood why I would leave a good job at the Washington Post and try to write for television. By the time my first co-written episode was shown on TV, Daddy was blind. He couldn’t even see it.

By the time I created my own show, he was dead and buried.

I still dream about my dad. Quite frequently.


cnulan said...

It's good with crackers...,

I don't know nothin bout that braunschweiger sammich though. Hoghead cheese, sardines, vienna "sausages", cream chipped beef YO!!!

I make some of that for my chirrens at least once every two weeks for breakfast.

Mine was 55 when I was born, born in 1907 himself, and had raised his siblings after his father died, and then been married and raised a bunch and widowed before he married my mother.

All a-them depression era goodies and then some. Cause he and his brothers had worked in the meat packing house and he took me down there a couple times to have lunch with one of his younger brothers. Lunch was a steak thrown in a vat of hot fat being rendered, it would sink to the bottom and then as it cooked rise back up to the top where it would be hooked out and then gobbled..., mmm, mmm, mmm...., let me tell you.

I've got an old manual meat grinder in my basement, I need to clean up and assemble and put back into service. It made many, many a delicious ground beef salad sammich back in the day. That's when you'd take those old scraps of roast beef, grind them with some sweet pickle, onion and stir in some mayonnaise. Stuff was so good it'd make you hit your papa.

Kellybelle said...

That was a nice way to remember your pops. I'm not close to mine either,but it's those little things we shared (Sam Cooke, smoking while farting) that let me know he was more than a DNA donor. Not much, but still.

I like liverwurst on saltines with a tear of American cheese food. he same way I like my head cheese. Yes, we called it souse meat too. We called Vicks Vapo Rub (which we also ate to soothe a sort thraot) Vicks-Ass. I think that's some kind of bastardization of Vicks Salve.

Nothing like fam.

cnulan said...

(which we also ate to soothe a sort thraot)

Does that work and are there any unintended/secondary consequences when the vicks hits your digestive tract?

Vicks, Halls Mentho-Eucalyptus, Bag Balm, Aspirin, Mercurichrome, Epsom Salt, Baking Soda, and Hydrogen Peroxide - are THE unbeatable dispensary. (fresh breath and pearly white teeth brushing with the Baking soda and rinsing with the hydrogen peroxide.)

maria said...

what a sweet and touching post, david!
what happens in your dreams of your dad?

btw, my dad was big on olive loaf. similar qualities.

and happy pre-T-Day!

Undercover Black Man said...

Vicks, Halls Mentho-Eucalyptus, Bag Balm, Aspirin, Mercurichrome, Epsom Salt, Baking Soda, and Hydrogen Peroxide - are THE unbeatable dispensary.

Plus calamine lotion for the chickenpox!

Undercover Black Man said...

what a sweet and touching post, david! what happens in your dreams of your dad?

Thanks, maria. The dreams are always strange and random. I've had a recurring dream that he had a longterm mistress.

Undercover Black Man said...

Lunch was a steak thrown in a vat of hot fat being rendered... mmm, mmm, mmm...., let me tell you.

Okay, Craig. If you say so.

Our dads grew up in such a different world than us. My main regret now is that I didn't ask him a lot of questions and learn about his life as a younger man.

Another weird thing: For as long as I was around, Daddy had false teeth. Full dentures. When I, as an adult, saw a photo of him as a young dude with his God-given choppers... hardly looked like the same guy.

Undercover Black Man said...

We called Vicks Vapo Rub (which we also ate to soothe a sort thraot) Vicks-Ass.

How wild that you would say that, Kellybelle! First time I ever heard of people eating Vicks VapoRub was a few years ago, from a woman who grew up in Chicago. I was flabbergasted!

John B. said...

I never got into sausage until I moved here to Milwaukee. Now I can chomp down the braunschweiger with the best of 'em.

And head cheese? Usinger makes a good Hungarian Head Cheese that's got a nice spicy kick. Don't know if you can get it out there.

Sheboygan, WI is world famous for its bratwurst. In fact, a few years ago, before he left this mortal coil, the NY Times's famous trencherman R.W. Apple toured some of the town's brat stands and gave a report.

When I was a kid in Phoenix my mom got me hooked on Ma Baensch's Pickled Herring. Then when I moved here, where's the first place I should live? An upper flat right across the street from their world headquarters. Pure heaven!

Another culinary delight that I never heard of until I moved here is the "Cannibal Sandwich." This is raw ground beef served with rye bread and raw onions. Some of the taverns used to offer it for free on Happy Hours Fridays. I haven't seen this for a while and given the sorry state of the meat-packing industry I don't know if I ever will again.

eeaster said...

Ah, then you would enjoy this article I wrote a while back on crap we ate in Baltimore:

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Fabulous, Eric!

If you want scrapple done right... visit Silver Spring's Woodside Deli. Every time I go back home, I'm all on that.

I never ate brains till a few years ago... not with eggs, thankfully, but as a dinner entre, I believe, at a Hungarian restaurant, I believe.

Undercover Black Man said...

This is raw ground beef served with rye bread and raw onions. Some of the taverns used to offer it for free on Happy Hours Fridays.

That sounds beyond wrong, John B. That sounds illegal. Raw ground beef??

cnulan said...

My first fast food job was at Wendy's and we had more than a few customers who would order raw patties on bun with onion.


cnulan said...

Eric that article was hilarious, thanks. (though I don't recollect fried brains and eggs as being quite that nasty - ever so slightly off tasting - but not rubber bandy)

Undercover Black Man said...


And illegal too, right? Or at least a liability nightmare. Did they get served?

John B. said...

I kid you not, Dave! Ask any Milwaukeean. I don't know if it's a German thing or not, but I haven't heard of this anywhere outside of Milwaukee.

I did get "kifto," or raw ground beef, at an Ethiopian restaurant in Chicago a couple of years ago, and my kids said "yuk!"

Raw beef, ground and unground, is actually something of an Ethiopian specialty. And when you think about it, why is that any worse than eating raw fish in sushi?

I suppose people are justifiably paranoid given the E. Coli scares, but really, a good fresh piece of meat, ground in hygienic conditions (unlike the present-day deregulated industrial slaughterhouses), is perfectly fine to eat.

Some people like to put a raw egg on their raw ground beef.

Daisy Kingston said...

When I was very young, I loved Vienna Sausages and Potted Meat Sandwiches on white bread with the crust cut off.

Then I learned how to read.
And got a dictionary.

When I started to read the labels, and look up the ingredients on the can, I never ate them again.

estiv said...

Seeing y'all reminisce about food, I'm getting nostalgic for a past I never had.

And David, I just figured out recently, twenty-eight years after my father died, that some of the things he did that didn't make any sense to me at the time were because he adored me. Not to say that it was an easy or simple relationship by any means, because he wasn't an easy or simple person (and I guess I'm not either). But at the time I had no idea that what he felt for me was often simple love.

Undercover Black Man said...

When I started to read the labels, and look up the ingredients on the can, I never ate them again.

See, Daisy? That's what you get for trying to know too much.


Daisy Kingston said...

"Vicks, Halls Mentho-Eucalyptus, Bag Balm, Aspirin, Mercurichrome, Epsom Salt, Baking Soda, and Hydrogen Peroxide - are THE unbeatable dispensary."

Don't forget the Robitussin. Like Chris Rock says, it can cure just about anything.

(When I was young, I remember my dad trying to give me a cough syrup called 666. Stuff was nasty.)

Undercover Black Man said...

Did anybody else used to eat Sucrets for fun?

The cherry ones were good.

blackink said...

No on the Sucrets but great post, David.

And I think men of a certain generation were into that crazy shit as far as food because they weren't blessed to enjoy things like Chick-Fil-A or frozen pizza.

My pops, for instance, was into sardines, boudain and dry-ass Sara Lee pound cake. I just thought it was weird. And I've never known anyone else who ever regularly ate that stuff like he did. Especially sardines.

Sch03 said...

In the end, kipper snacks and head cheese are probably better for you than a hotpocket.

My grandpa and his brothers loved jellied pigs feet. It came in a brick, clear gelatin with pink bits of meat inside. They'd slice it up, pour vinegar on it and scare everyone else out of the room.

cnulan said...

And I think men of a certain generation were into that crazy shit as far as food because they weren't blessed to enjoy things like Chick-Fil-A or frozen pizza.


depression era junk food is what I think it was. Cheap, filling, and habit forming.

David, did you get you some boudin while you were in Nawlins? Great hangover curative along with some BC powder.

And as for the narshty raw hamburgers, we served them any way the customer requested them.

Sucrets were the bomb. Just having tin of those jokers was like a childhood luxury, and I recall that good old Vicks formula 666 too. What I can't remember clearly is whether it was a brownish colored syrup and kind of tasty.

Geneva Girl said...

Liver"wish" was, and still is, my dad's thing. Grossed me out as a kid. He had the Gulden's mustard and the red onion with it.

My maternal grandfather liked to tease us with souse. It made me sick to my stomach just to look at it.

And, yes, I loved the cherry Sucrets. Just shaking them in the metal box made me happy.

that dude said...

I grew up on braunswieger. Love it to this day. It it a lot more rarely, because I know it's a bad idea, but damn it's a tasty treat...especially with the good delis here in LA.

I didn't get into sardines until I was a broke young man, but I have embraced them too.

I ate vienna sausages back in the day, and they mad gross me out now.

My wife does not understand any of those things, although she would joyfully eat spamover her neighbor's house as a kid.

BTW, I insisted on canned cranberry sauce today in addition to the homemade.

fishesalot said...

I know I'm going to get a bit long and off-topic here but your post triggered a flood of memories.

Liverwurst, kippers, salt Herring, souse, sardines, shad, pigs feet, hog maws, chitterlings, scrapple, ...that shit was like staples in our house and I still eat all that crap. It must be a Mills thang, mom used to call liverwurst braunschweiger too - wonder where she heard that.

One of the last times I was with Garnet(RIP)was on a fishing headboat in VA Beach. We're 10 miles off shore, it's about 95 degrees and I was parched. We were having our usual discussion on family politics when all of a sudden he busted out two small slices of Wonder Bread with what had to be a 4 inch thick chunk of liverwurst and a cake of cheese slapped between. He offered me a bite but it smelled a little potent, plus he had dried fish guts all over his hands so the bread looked like it had little spots of ketchup on it, yet all he had was mayo - I passed yo.

Garnet got me hooked on fishing and hunting. Sometimes we'd catch the spring Herring run down at Fletchers boathouse outside Geo'twn and we'd bring home about a hundred fish. My mom would salt the Herring and put it up in giant jars. Many a Sunday morning started with salt Herring and scrambled eggs - she said it was a family tradition.

I can relate on the dreams tip. My dad died last September and I've been having dreams about him lately. Usually he's calling me from somewhere and I'm always asking "Hey, are you at a club or pool hall or something?" he doesn't answer though - strange. Coming up, he was never really around and when he was there it was like he wasn't, he left for good when I was about 15. Anyway, though dude lived about a mile from me, I'd speak to him only once every 2 years or so, ...he was a hermit. So, last year he died in his apartment and it was three days before anyone knew about it. I had to go ID him at the morgue and take care of everything else and that dragged on for a few months. I understand why he was the way he was and more power to him, but my brother is still pissed on how dude checked in, sprouted 2 sons, never took care of daddy business, gave no directions on navigating this beouch, checked out, and left a cleanup job to guess who. Anyway ...

Shit, all that bullshit from just seeing some juicy ass slices of liverwurst.

So guy, Woodside Deli is right up the street from me, next time I go there I'll get something for the CA homeboy - a scrapple and fried egg sandwich G.


Invisible Woman said...

No you didn't bring up Sucrets--I'd forgotten all about those! lol

When I was a kid, even though my my father was fairly well off, he used to snack like a hobo on a train; vienna sausages, salami and cheese, SPAM, sardines, some weird meat in a can by Armour's...even as a kid I knew something was not right about it, but I can laugh now. Thankfully he wasn't into the pig by-products of head cheese, pig knuckles and feet, etc.

My mom used to make this atrocity called a "Braunschweiger Ball" at all of their parties, which was a huge ball of liverwurst covered in creme cheese, haha.

I agree with blackink on the generational thing..I also think it had a lot to do with the East Coast (my poppy is from Jersey). Thank goodness he's on the Cali train now with his eating habits :-)

cnulan said...

snack like a hobo on a train


What did y'all do with the neck and the giblets you pulled out of your little butterball turkeys today?

Who stuffed celery?

Who deviled eggs?

Who made icebox rolls?

Who made a pot of greens?

melinda said...

To answer cnulan's question, I don't think Vapo Rub messes with your digestion. My grandmother (and my mom after my grandma died) used to give that to me anytime I got really sick. It'll clear out your head, but it tastes disgusting. But if you're sick enough to break out the Vicks, is a sick stomach that big of a deal.

And nah, 666 is yellow and tastes like hell. I guess that's where they got the name. said...

Hello there!

That is so moving...the way our minds capture its cherished memories.

I just can't stop looking at that photo, though. That meat'll say it.... it looks soooo gross! Ewwwww. That reminds me of Spam! Spam looks really gross, too. It even looks gross in the photo on the can.

I remember the black people I met in school were frying Spam and making sandwiches with cheese! Ugggggh.

There is also something that LOOKS like Spam but it's darker and it's called "Scrapple". Uggggggh. said...

@ Melinda

There is a product called Butt Paste that is supposed to work on everything and to be used for ANYTHING at all...

You can google it and see.

KeWayne said...

Next time you go home, instead of Woodside, try the Parkway
I worked for decades in SS and loved them both, but Parkway is the true deli experience.
Eric, do you remember Lebanon Baloney in Baltimore as a kid? I still don't think you can get Tastycakes west of Maryland and south of Virginia..

Undercover Black Man said...

^ I hit the Parkway every now and then as well, KeWayne. You're right, that's a deli; Woodside Deli, despite the name, is a diner.

David Simon introduced me to the Parkway Deli many moons ago.

I haven't thought to look for liverwurst on their menu. But they rock the lox-eggs-and-onions scramble. And the potato pancakes are hittin' and stickin'.

lucius0729 said...

When I was growing up my dad and I hauled trash on Saturday's, this was back in the 60's and after we dumped our last stop we would stop at his favorite "burger" joint and he would get a pig ear sandwich and I would get a burger or fish sandwich. My dad love all things pig(tail, snoot, ear. He would also get liverwurst, salami, Vienna sausage and crackers. I learned to love the meats other kids my age wouldn't touch.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Lucius, welcome to my spot. Thanks for commenting.

justjudith said...

love the post, david! i miss my dad, too. the alzheimer's has taken him from me far too soon. however, i haven't made it to the gelatinous meats or pig's feet he favored, but i do crack open a beer when i can ;)

Thembi said...

Great post!

I love liverwurst, and for that matter the mysterious "potted meat."