Hot sauce to liver, we still get along


Randy Riley - Contributing columnist



Not surprisingly, it seems that many people have sharp opinions about certain things. There are some things in our lives where the “gray area” seems to evaporate.

There is little compromise on these hot topics. Most of those issues, not surprisingly, involve politics, but food preferences often seem to divide us. Many times these preferences boil down to “hate it” or “love it.”

I love lobster. Many of my friends and most of my grandchildren, look at those boiled, bright red, buggy looking critters and say, “No way am I eating that thing.”

I clearly remember sitting at a roadside lobster hut in Maine with my daughter, Jessi, many years ago. I was helping her break open her 2-pound lobster.

We got to the tail (which in my opinion is the best part of the bug) and Jessi looked at it and asked, “Is that lobster poop?” I couldn’t lie to her, so I said, “Well, sort of. It’s called the mud vein. It’s easy to remove, but, basically, yep. It’s lobster poop.”

Well, that was it for Jessi. But I ended up with two lobster tails.

One of Debbie’s favorite things for dinner is fried chicken livers. Some folks even enjoy eating the gizzards. That boggles my brain. She actually sits there and seemingly enjoys eating those lumpy, fried chunks of chick junk.

Every now and then, she will say, “You ought to try it.” So, I try it … again. No way. It always tastes just like liver. It never tastes like anything else. Debbie loves it.

Debbie can have it.

My Dad’s eyes used to glaze over with delight when Mom would announce that she would be fixing liver for dinner. Our little house on Maple Street would slowly fill with the aroma of beef liver being fried in a cast iron skillet. I would go outside and wait. I couldn’t leave the table without eating some dinner. So, I would down all the mashed potatoes, onions and greens.

But it was all I could do to choke down a mouthful of liver.

For me, it really doesn’t make any difference how it’s prepared. Anything made out of liver tastes like liver. Liverwurst, liver pâté, chopped liver, liver spread or Braunschweiger. It all tastes like liver. Beef, pork, chicken, or lamb, it all tastes the same to me. It tastes like liver.

People either love it or hate it. I am not one of those who love it.

One thing that I really like that a lot of people seem to hate is hot sauce. Not the stupid hot, chemical burning sauces with names that include words like atomic, nuclear, mad-dog and ghost pepper. I just like the flavor of a typical hot sauce.

When Josh was in the Army, he once came home with a hot sauce for me to try. We were having rice for dinner, so I started to shake a little hot sauce on rice.

Josh said, “Oh, Dad. Don’t do that. Just put one drop on the edge of your plate and barely touch it with a fork full of rice.” That seemed to be bit a dramatic, but I did just as he recommended.

That one partial drop of his crazy-hot sauce set me on fire. That could not be considered food additive or a condiment to enhance the flavor of any food. It was torture.

We buy Frank’s Hot Sauce by the jumbo bottle.

I always pour some if it into a plastic squirt bottle and squirt it into almost every soup or stew that we prepare. That way I can heat mine up without Debbie having to ever feel the burn of the sauce. Frank’s is one of my two favorites hot sauces.

Years ago, when I was the city mayor, some friends from Clarksville asked me to be an emcee for a music festival they were holding. Several country music groups performed as part of the tour. It was advertised as “The Last Train to Clarksville.” The sponsor of the music tour was D.A.T. Sauce.

I had an absolute blast. Drinking a few beers, listening to great music, and hanging out with some old friends from Clarksville and some new friends from the bands made for a great weekend. As I was leaving, a representative of the sponsor stopped to thank me and give me a 12-bottle case of D.A.T. sauce.

Wow…

It was great, but not available anywhere outside of southern Louisiana. It’s an old home recipe. It’s a thick sauce, filled with pepper chunks and seeds. It is hot, but not uncomfortably hot. It’s my other favorite hot sauce.

I’ll never understand why people have different tastes for various foods and flavors, but we sure do.

It might be like many of the things that make people different. Some people like to ski. Some would rather scuba. Some folks are liberal. Some conservative.

Of all the things that make us different, liver and hot sauce, my be the least important. Despite our likes and dislikes, it’s great when we all get along.

Enjoy your liver. If I eat any, it’ll be smothered in D.A.T. sauce.

Randy Riley is a former Mayor of Wilmington and former Clinton County Commissioner.

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Randy Riley

Contributing columnist