“Just because you like something doesn’t mean the rest of you should like it too. Quentin Tarantino likes licking feet, that doesn’t mean that it is something that the rest of society accepts and embraces.”
~AFFotD Food Critics Dressing Down St. Louis-Style Pizza Fans
Okay so at some point we should stop ragging on St. Louis-style pizza so much. We’ll admit that. When we started listing the worst of America’s Regional Culinary dishes, we were thinking about St. Louis’ cracker-thin travesty of a pie, but really, in digging through the worst foods that America has to offer, we’ve come to appreciate it, and maybe even begrudgingly respect it. No, you’re still wrong if you like it, and no, we’re not going to take you up on your offer to get some fucking Imo’s, get that shit out of our faces, but at least it tries to be something delicious and normal. It fails on both fronts, but it tries dammit. There’s no offal or rolled balls of fat and meat powder in play. No bad ideas, just really, really, really bad execution.
With that semi-apology out of the way, we’re going to delve into more of America’s worst regional dishes. And we’re sorry. We’re so, so sorry.
America’s Worst Regional Culinary Dishes (Part 2)
It’s still strange to us to think about a time where America wasn’t great at food. Granted, we’ve always been good at food, because we’ve had pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs for over a hundred years, but we also used to embrace really gross food, and were perfectly content with that. As much as we’ve grown as a nation, though, there still are some stragglers. Which is why you can go to certain parts of the country and still find dishes like…
Livermush (North Carolina)
Called “An even poorer man’s Scrapple” by…well, us, just now, livermush is a loaf of pig head and liver mixed with cornmeal, spiced with pepper and sage. Like scrapple, it uses garbage parts of an animal, adds some filler, and is formed into an unappetizing loaf meant to be sliced and pan-fried for breakfast. You can find it (but why would you be looking?) in Western North Carolina, primarily, where it first came into popularity during the Civil War. Generally, if you’re cooking something that came into existence out of pure necessity due to nobody having any food because of a fucking war, we can pretty much assume that your food is not going to be the best thing out there. Some people feel that livermush actually came into the mainstream (which, again, ugh, why) during the Great Depression, which makes our point.
Terrifyingly, those that embrace it aren’t simply happy to fry it up and eat it with their sad breakfast. They’ve started incorporating it into omelets and, even worse, fucking pizza. No. Goddamn it. Livermush pizza are two words that should never be combined. Why would you do that? What is wrong with you?
Koolickles (Mississippi Delta)
There are two very vocal schools of thought about the koolickle, a relatively recent development where people decided that pickles should be soaked in Kool-Aid until they turn neon red. There are those who, like us, think that mixing Kool-Aid and dill pickles is a terrible and disgusting waste of two otherwise delicious things, and there are those who are wrong and need to shut the fuck up while grownups are talking.
Koolpickles are big in the Mississippi Delta, where, the water has been severely contaminated with sugar, and so everything must be made as sweet as humanly possible to satiate their hunger. That’s the only reason why we can think of an entire population independently deciding to take a gallon jar of pickles and mix in two Kool-Aid packets and some extra sugar to boot until they look like futuristic sex toys. Actually, the South seems to have a weird affinity for pickling things that God never intended to be pickled, since we’ve also got…
Pickled Pigs’ Feet (The South)
Oh what the active fuck. Just, we mean, oh goddamn it. This is a snack for people who like to gnaw vinegary pig meat off a fucking goddamn hoof. What the actual hell, America? If you ever want to go into a deep, dark internet hole, we might recommend the reviews on Walmart for Hormel’s packaged pigs’ feet. You’ll find reviews like-
“Mostly bones very little meat.” 1-star.
“I REALLY ENJOYED THE PIGS FEET. THEY WERE SO GOOD. I GOT USE TO EATING THEM WHEN MY FAMILY LIVED IN OKLAHOMA.” 5-stars.
“The feet were all fat with a small amount of meat in the jar. Again, 95% of contents were fat. Very disappointed and waiting to get someone from Hormel on the phone to discuss this product.” 1-star.
“Hormel Pig Feet is a hard to find item in our local Super Markets. I was lucky to find it online at walmart.com. The problem is that I’m still waiting for it to arrive after 2 weeks.” Bafflingly, 5-stars.
The fact that this many Americans have strong opinions about pickled pigs’ feet other than, “Get that the fuck away from me and give me some actual food, for fuck’s sake” is enough to send us into an existential depression. We understand not wanting to waste parts of a pig, but you’ve got to stop somewhere. The only thing worse than this would be, like, we don’t know, deciding to fry up pigs’ noses or something…
Crispy Snoots (St. Louis)
Oh son of a bitch. This item, and the following one, were covered in our article about how St. Louis basically has the culinary version of Asperger’s, but we’ll reiterate—crispy snoots are a part of St. Louis-style barbeque where they…well, we’ll let Wikipedia take over here. “This cut is prepared by removing the pig’s nostrils and cooking the remaining meat until crispy.” Eww. Gross. Gross gross gross. Why do you do this to yourself, St. Louis? Eating cooked-until-oblivion pig noses strikes us as something you should be forced to do when you’re actively in danger of starving, not something that gets served to you in a Styrofoam container from a barbeque restaurant. The hell is wrong with you people?
St. Paul Sandwich (St. Louis)
You don’t have to just be normally discarded animal parts to make this list, you can also be a bad sandwich idea whose mere existence is actively unexplainable. Enter, the St. Paul sandwich, available in Chinese American restaurants in the St. Louis area. The majority of the sandwich can be interchanged with literally any deli meat and be a serviceable, if kind of depressing, lunch. It’s just a white bread sandwich with pickles, onions, mayo, lettuce, and tomato. You put some ham in there, and you’ve got a sandwich that you wouldn’t hate eating, you’d just hate how it reminds you of the monotony of your daily routine. But no, there is no ham here. There is no turkey. There is no roast beef. It’s just a fucking egg foo young patty. Why? Fuck if we know! St. Louis was like, “Hey, you know egg foo young?” and America was like, “I guess? It’s basically just kind of a Chinese omelet, right?” and St. Louis was like, “Yeah! AND WE’RE GOING TO PUT IT ON A SANDWICH” to which the rest of America just sort of slowly backed away.
We can’t even begin to parse the logic involved here. No one ever had a Denver omelet and thought to themselves, “You know what would be a not disgusting and stupid thing to do? Turn this into a sandwich for some reason!” St. Louis chefs basically have food Tourette’s, that’s the only thing that makes sense to us. “What are you serving today, Frank?” “Well, I was thinking FUCK EGG FOO YOUNG WHITE BREAD SANDWICH SHIT ASS of making a soup of the day.”
But as bad as St. Louis is, at least they don’t try to serve you balls.
Rocky Mountain Oysters (Mountain West)
You must have known this would be coming. You find yourself in the Mountain West, and you don’t have to look super hard to find yourself some fried up Rocky Mountain oysters. Which, for those of you who have lived blissfully unaware of such a thing, is deep-fried bull balls. We don’t really have much to add to that.
It’s… you know. It’s balls. It’s balls, for eating.
Yeah. We’re really sorry about this whole series of articles. We have just one more, we swear. And we promise this is the last time we’ll make you look at veiny dismembered bull balls for, at least, the next month.