On New Year’s day my friend Glenn, who is from Louisiana, cooked my house a “traditional Southern New Year’s dinner.” Everything we ate had some sort of symbolism—the field peas were for luck in the coming year, the greens for wealth, the sweet potatoes symbolized the sweetness of life. Then there was the chitlins. They were to remind Southern blacks about the years of slavery and poverty they came from. They made my house smell like boiling dog food.
“Chitlins” is Southern colloquial slang for “Chitterlings” (i.e.: pig intestine). Apparently, when prepared fresh, one takes them out to the yard and sticks a garden hose in one end to flush out the piggy waste. Some people complain if you rinse them too well, as they end up lacking “flavor.”
I will never eat chitlins again. They were horrible. I took one bite and had to force myself to keep chewing. It reeked of rot and decay. I tried to chew without breathing through my nose so I wouldn’t taste it. When I did gasp for air it tasted and smelled like I hadn’t flossed my teeth in years and suddenly opened up a rancid stash of bacteria. It was like eating a mummy.