Pig’s Feet and Cow’s Tongue

My daddy ate all sorts of strange things—things that made my skin crawl, my stomach shake, and some other muscles contract. The thing I hated the most was when he made what the Italians call Mazzafegati. My dad’s family spoke pigeon Italian, so, they called it Fugadatz.—homemade liver sausage.  YUM YUM!

It was a major ordeal. His entire family, ten kids, would congregate at our house with their recipes. My dad took the helm at the head of a table of pieces of liver, sage, hot peppers from everyone’s garden, pig’s intestine and some other fillers I can’t remember. I recall the pig intestine the most, because I thought, if sausage was encased in pig intestine, I would never eat it again.  That could be why I spent 27 years a vegetarian.

One of my aunts would be in charge of feeding the intestines into the sausage-stuffing machine to fill it with the liver mixture. Then the  end product oozed out like Dog Doo. From there they would hang the sausage in the dank basement for about a month until it was properly aged, before it was fried and eaten. But it was certainly not eaten by me. I have to say that most of my brothers and sisters ate it—4 out of the 6.

I have a rule about food: If it looks back at you, I don’t eat it. If it smells worse than feet, I don’t eat it.

On the other side of that memory, some food tastes like my childhood. I have a client who brings me these Amish protein bars that remind me of DeAngeles glazed donuts, a mom and pop donut den that made the very best donuts ever. Every once in a while, I’ll go over to Cracker Barrel and buy a Mallow Cup candy bar, and it takes me right back to old Mrs. Calhoun’s Candy cupboard, where we bought candy as children.

It feels good to reminisce about times when life was pleasant and slow, when you had fewer cares than worries. But the past is tricky. It can pull you in and keep you there, until you meet the monsters that you never conquered while you were growing up. Then depression grabs hold, and what started out as a pleasant trip down memory lane, ends up bringing you down.

I think the past and memories of the past have their place, but most of the time, the past smells much like Dad’s Fugadatz sausage after it is fried up with plenty of onions and peppers. It stinks to high heaven, and it takes days for the smell to leave your home.

Make laws in your life about living in the past. I remember when I went to my first high school reunion. Most of the guys who were jocks and handsome then, were bald and had pot bellies now. But the kids who were living under the radar then were very much a part of life and society living in the now. At the reunion, while all the jocks wanted to talk about the good old days, the kids flying under the radar were talking about their prosperous and happy lives.

If you’re happy with the present, there is no need to live in the past.

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