I guess most Southerners like pork but my love for pork goes way beyond a basic “like” for this wonderful meat.
I guess my affection for this meat is mainly genetic. I have been told my grandfather on my father’s side was one of the best at salting hams after the pigs had been slaughtered. Dad tells told me that people all around Goodwater wanted him to salt their hams each year.
My grandfather on my mom’s side killed a lot of hogs, and he would have all his friends over for a big chitterling cookout at his home after cleaning the pigs. With that being said, I guess I can’t really do anything to curb my hunger for any and most types of pork.
Based on my memory, I can trace my love for pork to sometime around my fourth birthday. I guess I have been hooked on pork now for 49 years. It started when my parents hired a babysitter to stay with me in the late ’60s while they were teaching school and my sister was attending school.
I would look in the refrigerator and search for something to eat. The babysitter asked me if I would like for her to fry some bacon. It was so good!! That salty greasy meat had me at hello. It became a daily ritual; the babysitter and I would eat a pound of bacon each day while my sister and parents were at school eating government surplus food. I was literally living “high on the hog.”
My mom broke my heart when our grocery bill was skyrocketing as a result of my habit. It was back to cereal and toast after the price of pork bellies began to break the Barnett’s finances.
I remember very vividly one particular day at my grandmother’s. I could not have been more than 6 years old. She was cooking my grandfather bacon one morning and I kept sneaking into the kitchen and getting a slice of bacon off the plate as soon as she turned her back. After she got through, the plate was empty. She had to get out another pound of bacon for him. I was guilty as charged but, dang, it was worth it. I was full and satisfied after my pork thievery.
Bacon was my gateway meat that brought me in contact with other types of pork. My mom introduced me to salty country ham at a young age. It was love at first bite. She would scramble eggs and make redeye gravy along with homemade biscuits. That salty ham went great with an ice cold soft drink to wash all that salt through my digestive system. I guess I had a “pork” problem but admitting it was not going to happen anytime soon.
My dad used to give the lunchroom scraps at Fayetteville High School to a local hog farmer in the neighborhood. I am sure this would violate all types of health codes today as well as many types of ethics laws. I hope the statute of limitations has expired. I would hate for this article to send my 85-year-old father to jail. I would feel terrible.
Back to the story: This farmer would process hogs every fall and he would bring us fresh pork tenderloin. My mom would fry this with biscuits and sorghum syrup along with scrambled eggs. I was in “hog heaven.”
I am now 53 years old and I still love pork. I fry bacon or sausage most every morning. Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches are my favorite. Ribs and pork chops on the grill are a staple at my house in the summer. Yes, I have a problem, but I have justified my addiction. I have jogged over 800 miles in the last two years, and I have ridden my bike over 1,000 miles in the last two years. All that exercise has got to offset the problems associated with massive pork consumption. I know I have made my readers hungry so get in that kitchen and fire up the black skillet and have a pound of bacon.
I hope everyone has a great week.
Alvin Barnett is a history teacher at Childersburg High School.