Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hoghead Cheese and Gumbo

Scratching your heads right now, aren't ya?  Many will know what gumbo is, but when they hear the words "hog" "head" and "cheese" together, they get a bit flustered.  And yes, it's exactly what it sounds like:  cheese made from the head of a hog.  Sounds gross, but it's SO GOOD.

I was born and raised in the deep south.  I'm talking gator farms, crabbing at 3am, mosquitoes, boudin balls, jambalaya and red beans for dinner deep south.  If you're from here or have ever visited here, you know the food is fantastic.  Anything and everything you could eat here is great with one exception:  nutria rat.  I have never and will never eat a rat.  No, thank you.

Since my mother and her mother were also born and raised here, they are two of the best cooks in the world.  I don't care what they're cooking, it's good.  Like slap ya Momma good. (Note:  If you're ever in the south and something is slap ya Momma good, PLEASE, for the love of God, do not slap somebody's Momma.  You'll get your ass kicked.) They cook the best fried chicken, pork chops, roast and gravy - and we eat pretty much everything with gravy.  It's a food group.

In addition to being delicious, food is also cooked differently here.  We'll take anything healthy and make it unhealthy.  All you need is some Crisco, butter and flour.  For example, when we get fresh vegetables, we don't just slice 'em up and throw them in a salad.  No, sir.  We batter and fry those bad boys.  Do the same thing to fish, shrimp, soft shell crabs and even bread (hushpuppies).  If we're not frying it, we're covering it in salt and Tony's (Tony Chachere's Seasoning).  You can make anything better with enough Tony's.

Knowing all of this can help y'all understand just how incredibly easy it was for me to get as big as the side of a barn.  Because not only is the food delicious, every single public event that goes on down here involves some form of food.  Festivals are named after foods.  Parties involve either BBQ or a crawfish boil.  Church get-togethers include potluck dinners (Oh em gee can old church ladies cook!).  Hell, they even serve snacks at the polling booths on election days.  I'm telling you, life in the south revolves around food.

So,  27 years of weekly Sunday dinners at my Mawmaw's house with roast, rice and gravy, homemade macaroni and cheese, broccoli casserole, squash casserole (a vegetable isn't edible unless it's fried or in a casserole of some sort), cornbread and the likes, on top of my mother's daily wholesome dinners (she cooked enough for a small army - every single night), combined with the bad habits of any kid/young adult - fast food and junk food all the time..... God, why was I even surprised when that scale read 283??

Once I got married and moved out, my eating habits didn't worsen, but they surely didn't improve.  I wanted to cook dinners every night, but with being a student and working full time and a house to keep up, many nights I would just throw chicken nuggets and fries in the oven.  I would cook some vegetables for the kids, but my husband and I would eat large platefuls of nuggets and fries with ketchup AND MAYONNAISE mixed together.  That started around age 8.  At 27 I was still eating mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together with fries and basically any meat - chicken, pork, even steak.

I'd plan on being good and bring a can of soup or a small pack of crackers to school or work, but as soon as I got in my car to go home, the first thing I wanted to do was pull into a Sonic or Raising Canes or Taco Bell. From Sonic I would order mozzarella sticks, cheddar poppers and a large chili cheese tots.  Every single time.  From Cane's I would get the largest combo with an extra sauce - no coleslaw for me.  Taco Bell would be a stuffed burrito with either a Mexican pizza or a quesadilla.  Every once in a while I would stop by Popeye's and get a 3-piece chicken with red beans and rice and a biscuit.  I would eat ALL THREE pieces of chicken, all of the red beans and the biscuit.

I'm mortified to be sharing this with y'all, but I know that being honest with myself and everyone else about how bad I let myself get is the best way to motivate myself to continue this new path I'm on.  Since I've started my lifestyle change I haven't had any fast food or junk food.  An entire month with no junk food is a milestone for me.  I don't know how Sonic is going to pay their light bill anymore.

Hopefully soon I can share with you guys some of the lifestyle changes I've made in regards to what I eat.  A lot of it has to do with being conscious of what we put into our bodies, and how it will affect us.   So, the next time you feel the urge to pull in to a fast food joint for a "quick bite", take a second to think about how long it will take to work it off.

20 comments:

  1. This is such a good post, Bea. It's weird, but I feel like I "know" you so much when you write. It speaks to a special part of me.

    And trust me, posting my bad eating habits was hard. This is liberating, and you'll only be better for having aired this out. Thank you for your honesty.

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    1. I know, I feel like little weights are coming off of me every time I post something like this. It's like my own personal form of therapy!

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  2. I love how this blog is a place where you can all open up and not be afraid to tell your story. You know you won't be judged! Except for the hog head cheese. Pig head cheese?? Oh my... hehehe I kid, I kid.

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    1. Haha it's not actually cheese, per say. It's just called that because once it's finished it's solid like cheese, and you slice it and eat it on crackers like cheese.

      It's weird, I know.

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  3. I have always eaten pretty healthy with the exception of the last year. "Freedom" from my husband involved a freedom from his obsessive control of my eating too (eating which didn't need any control). But now? It definitely needs control. So your last sentence spoke to me a lot. There's a reason I have gained 10-12 lbs in the past year, and a reason I haven't had luck losing it yet. Thank you so much for your honesty. I know you were writing mostly for yourself, but it helps others too.

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    1. Glad to know it's helping others. :)

      Thanks!

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  4. As we've discussed when you allowed our group to pre-read your post last week, I can relate to you immensely. We are from a unique area of the country where this type of food is the norm. I've never had the hog-head cheese, but it was available in my town! I make gumbo on Christmas and dowdn home we would have a fish fry and/or a crawfish boil for parties, unless we had a BBQ (I AM a Texan, after all). It really is nice to have someone in the group who I have a similar eating background with.

    I love how open you are with your writing and with us. I think I can speak for all of us, when I tell you that we appreciate you and your honesty. I know I can relate to where you're coming from. It's hard to change everything you've ever loved about food. I love you, girl.

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    1. Thank you! It's so hard to ignore all of the good food, especially when it's in front of my all the time. Thankfully my mother and grandmother have decided to change their eating habits as well, so the food options have become much more health-oriented.

      Love you too!

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    2. I know what you mean about it being in front of you all the time. The husband has a job where he is literally running constantly, so he's in fantastic shape (hubba hubba husband) and can pretty much eat anything he wants. It's hard when one person is trying to lose and the other is trying to maintain or gain.

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  5. OK I can never go there, I would eat myself to death!!
    But since oyu guys started this blog I am trying to stay away form all the junk food, it is really hard, and starting to cook proper food even harder. So it is really impressive that you managed to stay away from the junk for a month so far!
    For that you should be allowed to slap a momma.

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    1. It hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be, to resist the junk food. I just kept repeating to myself "that will make you sick. That will make you sick. It's disgusting. You don't want that" and I think it's kind of working. I feel like Pavlov's dog.

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  6. I have gotten worse in my eating habits with the idea of a "quick bite" at a fast food joint or cafe. "I'm running errands and am getting hungry, it's cheap and fast, I'll just get a quick bite to eat." It's a habit that I know I need to break, but it is oh so tricky. I'm out of shape and use that as an excuse NOT to work out. Not cool. But following along with your blog Bea I'm inspired to keep trying. Thank you!

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    1. Glad you're trying to make the changes! It's hard to retrain yourself to a new way of thinking about food when you've eaten a certain way for a long time. It's a daily thing for me, and I know it is for others as well.

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  7. And this is exactly why my girlfriend wants to visit the south one day. Just to try the food at least once.

    I'm surprised you didn't mention catfish though. Isn't deep fried catfish supposed to be a delicacy or something?

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    1. Any and all seafood is deep-fried. Catfish, trout, redfish, crabs, shrimp, frogs, you name it, we fry it.

      The food is great. You should definitely visit.

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  8. I've lived in the South for 16 years now and I'm amazed at all of their festivals that revolve around food. The chowder festival, the watermelon festival, the chili cook-offs, the wing fling, and my favorite- the spot festival, which is actually a fish. Who knew?????? Of course each of those festivals has a princess and queen attached to it. Now that is a whole different story!!!!!

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  9. I seen a show on the travel channel and how people eat in the south. They even deep fry candy bars! But I'm sure it's tasty!

    But being tasty is also the hardest part to watching what you eat. Flavor is THE most important factor to me when choosing my meals.

    Another part to making it difficult to eat healthy is the cost! Doctors and officials are always complaining that America is so obese and that we should eat healthier. What are we supposed to do when a box of cupcakes is cheaper than a bag of grapes?

    Not to mention all the fast food restaurants on every street corner, making it so easy for us to eat there. The quick fix is enticing when we all are so pressed for time!

    Good luck with your journey to a healthier lifestyle! Thank you for sharing such an honest post. It is helpful when you write it and can review your thoughts. And it is even more helpful when people who read this can offer their support and provide such a wide range of perspectives and advice. My readers recently helped me through a difficult time and I'm thankful. So yes, it is good to write and share!

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  10. I will be spending some time in the American South this summer, and I am afraid I will starve to death. I am a vegetarian who is allergic to gluten.

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    1. Good luck with that.

      Just kidding, there are health food stores and restaurants here. Believe it or not, not everyone here is huge. Just most of us. ;)

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  11. So HERE you are!
    Hog's Head Cheese
    It's only gross depending on which head you're talking about.

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