Liver and onions are a meal no one confesses to. It simply is not politically correct.
When I was a child, organ meat fed many a working class family. Liverwurst in a length of intestine…yum, yum. Sometimes Mom said it was braunschweiger, but made no difference to the kids who could say neither, and called it spread meat.
Liver was a special treat in our house. Family story had it that my dad came home from work, inhaled deeply, and said “steak” on the exhale. Mom had to say it was liver, which he could not bring himself to eat. The difference in the palates of the granddaughter of a German grocer and the grandson of a Presbyterian Irish schoolteacher. Ever after we ate liver when Dad was out of town on a business trip.
We ate Mom’s liver because it was pretty good, and the onions and mashed potatoes were great. Then my brother, the Old Cornmudgeon came back from England with his trophy wife. Oh, our Hazel. She made Yorkshire pudding so wonderful that my uncle, a WWII veteran who shipped out of England, got up and waltzed her around the kitchen.
Hazel’s liver became a family gathering. Hazel taught us you only turn liver once, and voila, no more tough liver on any plate in our family. But the sixties rolled into the seventies and eighties, and suddenly all the best food was no good for us. I’m sure liverwurst remains available at good delis, but don’t expect to find it at the current incarnation of the local A&P.
And so, liver went out of our lives. Until the year Hazel called from England. We could say no, she said, but it would be a great favor if we would allow her to bunk at our house while she showed off her America to her husband, Bill. The question went round the house, to a unanimous YES. So, Hazel and Bill came to visit. Often, as it turned out.
Of course, not many days went by before someone said, Remember those liver and onion dinners! And, of course, Hazel made liver and onions and I believe Walt even came up from Southern Ohio to meet Hazel’s husband and eat liver and onions. I’m thinking that was in the early nineties.
Now, it’s liver and onions when Hazel comes over. Or, a friend visits from Texas and leaves a fifty pound sack of Vandalia onions in our living room. Mighty fine eating.
Supper tonight. Eat your hearts out.