A Facebook friend who goes by the moniker Sherry Senile Camper Swanson posted a photo of a can of Hormel Tamales on her timeline: “For my gourmet dinner friends…here is my post of my lovely lunch of canned tamales…which I LOVE. Be jealous. Hee he.”
Wife Lila chimed in, “Ken Steinhoff loves those things. Our grocer here quit carrying them, and I was charged with finding some… NOW! About six weeks later, I found them at another store and bought enough to keep him from going into a fetal position.”
That launched into a long discussion about those foods people keep in the back of their pantries for emergencies (in our case, hurricane supplies) or for the once or twice-a-year cravings. (If you can’t get them locally, here’s an Amazon link for Hormel Beef in Chili Sauce Tamales.)
It was interesting how many Cape Girardeans admitted to tamale urges. It must be a Bootheel thing, one said.
Smoked clams and oysters
When nothing else hits the craving spot, I’ll reach into the hurricane supplies to pick up a can of smoked baby clams or oysters. I like them scooped up on Ritz Garden Vegetable crackers. I didn’t see the brand we buy listed on Amazon, but I haven’t been able to tell much difference in brands. For as seldom as I eat a can, cheapest is best.
All things being equal, I think I belch smoked clams for a shorter period of time than smoked oysters. Now, THAT’S a food review you don’t see on Friend Jan’s food blog.
I was doing OK with this food talk until Ms. Swanson brought up Vienna sausages. I don’t think I’ve cracked a can of those things in 30 years, but I decided I should pick up a couple cans (they were on sale) when I went to the grocery store this afternoon. When I got home, Wife Lila was getting ready to make greens out of the broccoli leaves from her backyard garden.
She took one look at my cans and said, “You know how you have to leave the room when I drink buttermilk, well, I’m going to have to leave the room if you eat those.”
They DO look nasty
Ms. Swanson rhapsodized about her VS experience: “I still have a can that I carried all the way across the US on my bike adventure. I was always afraid I’d end up in some podunk place with nothing to eat. I ate in a lot of gas stations on that trip…and the can of VS made it to the Atlantic Ocean and back here to Missouri.”
When I cracked my can, I wish I had carried it unopened from one coast to the other.
Reading the ingredients didn’t make me feel any better: “Sausage: Mechanically separated chicken, water, salt, corn syrup. Contains less than 2% or less of beef, pork, Dextrose, natural flavors, sodium nitrate, garlic powder. Broth: chicken broth.”
Still, I had 50 cents invested in this adventure, so I had to go through with it.
I now know what “bilious” means
Wife Lila didn’t run screaming from the room after all. She consented to photograph my experiment. She kept saying, “That one didn’t look exactly right. You’d better eat another one while I shoot it from a slightly different angle. Oh, there’s a bad shadow on that one.” [Editor’s note: For the record, Proofreader Lila doesn’t remember the photo shoot that way. I think she is suffering from sausage-induced amnesia.]
I had a horrible, guilty flashback. We had a feature columnist who did lots of what he thought were “funny” stories requiring personal deeds of (not) so daring feats. We photographers resented the space devoted to him that we thought could be better used by serious stories, so we didn’t cut him much slack.
One shoot involved a test of a laundry detergent to see if the stains really would come out after [name removed] had been dragged through a mud puddle by a motorcycle. One of the most reliable photographers on the staff had the darnedest time that afternoon. They light was wrong, the timing was off, his film slipped on the reel… Poor [name removed] and his clothing were certainly muddy after about half a dozen takes, but, to his credit, he didn’t gripe about the misfortunes the photographer had.
I now sympathize with [name removed] and feel a little guilty.
After I finished the seven “sausages” in the can, I looked inside and saw a gelatinous goo left behind that wouldn’t even pour out.
A word floated into my mind; a word that I hadn’t used in so long that I had to look it up to make sure it was the right one. Yep, “bilious” was the right term: “Bilious fever was a medical diagnosis often used for any fever that exhibited the symptom of nausea or vomiting in addition to an increase in internal body temperature and strong diarrhea. “Bilious” means the condition was thought to arise from disorders of bile, the two types of which were two of the Four Humours of traditional Galenic medicine. The term is obsolete and no longer used, but was commonly used by medical practitioners in the 18th and 19th centuries, often cited as a cause on death certificates.”
Topics for future exploration
When I get over my bilious condition, we can explore those other foods of Swampeast Missouri like tongue with horseradish, pickled pig’s feet and brains and eggs.