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Hartselle Enquirer

Ever wondered about souse?

By Staff
Ralph Stacy, Guest columnist
You ever wondered what's in souse?
You know souse, that brownish-grayish stuff that's next to the hot dogs and sausages in the meat counter. Kinda looks like what you'd get if you mixed a frog, a box of jello, and some gravel in a food processor.
I know what's in souse.
Not only do I know, I've seen it made.
Souse is also known as "head cheese", because the really good stuff is made from the boiled and pickled head of a hog.
The reason I know this is because of Uncle Wiley.
Uncle Wiley. Wiley Pierre Louis` Wentworth. One Hundred Percent Arcadian (that would be Cajun to most of us). Owner of the Hotel Bruin in Baton Rouge, La. Transplanted to Alabama in the early 70s. Never did like the selection of available foods in Georgiana. Would cook and eat anything he could kill or find dead.
First person to tempt me with possum and sweet potatoes. First person who I ever turned down when it came to a meal.
Uncle Wiley decided one day that the local pickings (pun intended) on the souse front were just too slim, so he went about getting the necessary ingredients to make a mess of souse. Main ingredient needed: one fresh hog's head.
Now that's not as hard to get as you think, given that hog butchering was still going strong in this part of the world back then. He obtained the necessary swine cranium, then headed home to put it in the fridge while he got the rest of the seasoning and such ready. However, upon reaching home, he found that the fridge was full.
No problem…these were the days when your neighbors didn't lock their houses, so he went cantering across the street to my grandmother's, wandered in, hollered to see who was around, and, upon encountering no one, proceeded to place the severed head of pig in the refrigerator while he went back home to rearrange his fridge so it would fit.
Guess who came wandering in from the yard where she'd been picking spider lilies? Guess who needed a drink of cold water? Guess who went screaming by Uncle Wiley like a track star as he headed back for his souse material?
Guess who never told my grandmother who put the hog's head in the fridge?
There's that fine line between knowledge and good sense. I crossed that line when it came to knowing how to make souse.
There's some things you should just take at face value…and say "no thank you" when it's passed around the dinner table.

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