Bless your heart. A recent headline in The Charlotte Observer libelously proclaimed “Livermush is our ‘grossest food’ — but we love it.”
Well, maybe the head was only semi-libelous, just the part about livermush being North Carolina’s “grossest food.”
I’ll bet the writer cited as saying livermush “could double as the foundation of the YMCA” has never even tasted the Southern delicacy. Or maybe the Observer staffer who wrote the article based his opinion on the photo chosen to illustrate it (now, that was gross).
The caption on the photo said, “Some North Carolinians eat livermush in a sandwich.” Sandwich? That photo bore no resemblance to a livermush sandwich. That wasn’t soft, light bread (think Sunbeam or Bunny). That was some hard-looking, brownish, misshapen piece of exotic bread harboring a majorly overcooked, too-thin piece of livermush.
And, horror of horrors, sticking out between the hard-looking bread and the hard-looking livermush was some sort of vegetation. Please tell me it wasn’t kale!
In the spirit of regional solidarity, here’s how to make a proper livermush sandwich. Those of you who grew up rich, picky or Yankee should pay attention. Those of us blessed with having grown up poor, thankful and Southern already know how. Here it is: Slice the livermush about a half-inch thick, fry in oil over medium heat until firm but not hard, drain on a paper towel. Coat two slices of light bread (see above) with cheap yellow mustard (not designer mustard). Insert the livermush between the slices. Do NOT add any foreign matter. And there you have it.
Now, by way of truth in journalism (as opposed to so-called fake news or dishonest media), let me say that it’s been some 50 years since this old reporter ate a livermush sandwich. That’s the length of time I’ve been a vegetarian who eats nothing that had a mother or that contains an ingredient that had a mother.
But, let me say this about that. Of all the meats, seafoods and byproducts thereof that I have not eaten during these vegetarian years, the only thing I missed is livermush. The ONLY thing.
Finally, because of that truth-in-journalism thing, I will tell you that I still buy livermush. Twice a year. Once on my dog J.R.’s birthday and again on my dog Izzy’s birthday. I fry their livermush (see above) and serve it naked (no mustard, no bread). I do not buy the brand of livermush pictured in the article.
And thereby endeth the sermon.
Joan Lail has been a columnist for The Observer’s Catawba Valley Neighbors edition, as well as the Hickory Daily Record and the Albany (Ga.) Herald.