Last month, it was time to peruse the cookbooks looking for some recipes for the
Christmas season. One of the cookbooks I have, called "The Joy of Sharing" by the Antelope
Women's Club, was given to me in 1991. As I flipped through it in search of
a Peanut Brittle recipe, I came across a recipe for "Spiced Tongue."
I shuddered in revulsion and commented to Joe, "How appropriate that the contributor's
name was 'Slim.' Most people would be slim if they had such recipes in their repertoire."
Joe asked in amazement, "You mean you've never eaten tongue before?"
"Only when I've accidently bitten my own," I responded.
There was another recipe, same contributor, for Deviled Tongue Mold.
The ingredients are unflavored gelatin, mayonnaise, horseradish, mustard, sour pickle,
hard cooked eggs, and of course, chopped cooked beef tongue.
Slim must have had an abundance of cow tongue on his hands.
Joe wouldn't leave me alone about it.
"You've never been so poor you've had to eat tongue?"
"Is that what poor people eat?" I wondered.
He said, "We always had to eat tongue when it was the last package left in the freezer.
The thing about eating a tongue is that it's tasting you while you're tasting it."
My mind did a little loop over that one.
"When I was growing up, we lived in Weaverville for a year.
We were really broke one time. Our family ate French toast for week."
He was disbelieving.
"You poor thing. You had to eat French toast. Don't forget that you went to
private school and your family had horses. You were broke,
but you weren't eating tongue."
So this conversation left us to ponder the many definitions of the word broke.
In the holiday madness at the grocery store, I heard a lady tell her daughter,
"Add up what we're spending because I only have $30."
I wonder what her definition of only having $30 is.
Does it mean, "I have $30 left until next payday and next month I'm gonna have a
double PG&E bill?" or does it mean, "I have $30 cash and I forgot my ATM card at home?"
There are some people who consider themselves broke when, after getting
their nails done, they stop for a mocha and decide not to go out to dinner, better just pick up a
Murphy's pizza, because, you know, they're broke.
And then there are people who go in search of every coin in the house so they
can get a gallon of milk. Some people say they're broke when they're down to their last $200
but for other people, broke is when you've just spent your last $20 and written a hot check.
Joe said that tongue costs $2.99 per lb. for a bulk pack of four beef tongues.
$2.99! For $3.00 per lb. you can get steak...like tri-tip.
It's fascinating that they sell tongue in bulk.
Is this a wise thing to do?
How many cow tongues can there be in Red Bluff?
Aren't we going to run out if we sell them in bulk?
I mean, you only get one per cow. Maybe that's what drove up the price.
Great, now poor people can't buy tongue. They have to eat hot dogs.
Those come in a pack of 8 for 89 cents because cows have an unlimited number of
hot dogs inside of them...but just one tongue. It's a sorry day and age when people would
actually want to buy tongue and not be able to afford it.
Oh! My sister came over, read the above and tells me that yes, I have eaten tongue.
"We were poor!" she said, "and we had to eat our tongue sandwiches at the private school."
That's awful! I must have completely blocked it out.
However, she seems to recall the whole thing in vivid detail.
"All the other kids had peanut butter or bologna, and then they'd look over and ask,
'What kind do you have?' and I'd mumble that I didn't know. They wouldn't stop asking.
The meat in my sandwich looked different. Finally, I would admit that it was a tongue sandwich.
The other students were agog with the novelty of my sandwich.
They'd yell to the other kids,
'Hey! That girl has a tongue sandwich!'"
She said that the worst part about eating tongue was that "mom boiled it to death and the
taste buds on it got really big...so big, in fact that each one was almost a meal by itself."
I'd like to think that my mom made me peanut butter and only gave my sister the tongue sandwich.
Who would send their kindergartener to school with a tongue sandwich?
The only odd sandwich I remember having was a lima bean sandwich with mayonnaise.
That was always difficult to explain to my elementary classmates.
The worst part of it was having to open the sandwich baggie...the initial smell of lima beans
that had sat in a lunchbox for half a day could be pretty pungent.
The kids would look around suspiciously at the smell.
However, even that was not the strangest sandwich I've ever eaten.
My mom's friend babysat me and my sister and made us something called a
"poor man's sandwich." It was peanut butter, mayonnaise, and sweet pickle.
Ugh! I remember eating it, feeling sorry for poor men that they had to eat poor men's sandwiches.
It was then that I decided that I didn't want to marry a poor man and have to eat his sandwiches.
Of course, in the 70's, we didn't have cheap boxes of macaroni and cheese or top ramen.
If you were broke, it meant you had to eat tongue, peanut butter and pickle, or some other odd thing.
"Tongue is an acquired taste."
Now that's an interesting phrase if you give it some thought.
I imagine that after reading this article, a few of you may have some witty
thing to say about lima beans or peanut butter pickle...
Hold your tongue!
Where's the beef...tongue?