The Daily 750

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .
1001 Ways -- Okay, 1 Way With Livermush

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Brick
The Neese's Sausage Company is located at 1452 Alamance Church Road, Greensboro, North Carolina, just up the road from the Neese family farm George Neese bought when he came down from Pennsylvania in his wagon, in 1769. It distributes its small line of sausage products only to parts of three states -- most of North Carolina except for the upper eastern corner and the far western edge, and a small part of central South Carolina and central Virgina adjacent to the border with North Carolina. (Areas which also happen to be major speed traps.)

This photo essay is about why, after 225 years, that distribution area has not grown.

Neither my family nor any of the kids I smacked down thousands of pounds of livermush with has ever called Liver Pudding anything but livermush, and until I researched this piece I didn't know that Neese's even makes a Liver Mush, which it sells mostly in western North Carolina -- or, "up in the mountains," as the Piemontese, from which I hail, and who prefer the subtler flavorings and smoother texture of the Pudding, say.

J.T. Neese's wife, Annie Smith, hit on the Liver Pudding recipe in the 1920s, after her husband J.T. ("Mr. Thede" -- ol' George's great-great-great-something) had been delivering sausage for a few years. "She ground pork livers and other choice pork cuts and seasoned them with herbs and spices. She added just enough corn meal to hold it together."

The ingredients are: pork broth, pork livers, cereal (corn and wheat meal), pork, salt, spices, caramel coloring. The brick is fully cooked. You could eat it right out of the package with your caramel latte while you shop.

Brick Texture
Firmer than Jimmy Dean's sausage, softer than cheddar cheese, each two-ounce serving, which would provide 8 quarter-inch slices per brick, has 80 calories, 30 from fat. Also: 17% of your daily cholestoral, 12% of sodium, 8% of fiber, 20% of iron and a whopping 35% of vitamin A. Who knew pork had Vitamin A?

"Believe it or not, a favorite of kids who love it on a sandwich or warmed in the pan for breakfast. By the way, it doesn't taste like pudding and it doesn't look like liver."

These are the same kids who prefer Raviolios to homemade lasagna from Mama Corleone, and Fruit Roll-Ups to strawberries. And certainly Sunbeam white bread, or Wonder Bread if you're rich. But Neese is right: it doesn't taste like pudding and it doesn't look like liver. Okay, well, maybe it looks like liver just a little. It tastes like a smooth, mild sausage. No textural bits of fat or gristle.

Southern SecretNothing goes better on a livermush sandwich than a healthy slathering of "smooth & creamy" Duke's Mayonnaise, "The Secret of Great Southern Cooks." Mrs. Eugenia Duke of Greenville, South Carolina, began the Duke empire by preparing and selling sandwiches to Civil War soldiers stationed at the nearby Fort Sevier, and the rest is southern history.

The secret is: it has a back-taste of cheap, flat vegetable oil.

Now in the upside-down plastic squeeze bottle designed not for your convenience but so you'll buy it more often. The jars you can scrape out with your spatula down to the last dollop, and then you can take off the label, wash the jar, and store your buttons or your nails. This contraption you have to throw in the garbage when there's still enough left for a family reunion of livermush sandwiches or potato salad.

On the other hand, the squeeze bottle allows for much more creative placement of the mayo. Kids will love this, too!

Yum! The healthy oat nut bread competes with the livermush. A sticky white bread is a must for full flavor. Also, a plate would be nice. Otherwise: Yum!

For variety, why not try sauteeing your next slice of livermush and adding a dollop of French's Mustard!

It's been reported that even the Baghwan Shree Rajneesh, who was arrested at the Charlotte airport trying to flee the country, much enjoyed the standard jail breakfast: fried livermush and grits.


Quotes are from the Neese's website. No actual livermush was consumed in this demonstration. You must be 10 or under and a resident of a defined territorial boundary comprising certain areas of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, or the Shree Baghwan Rajneesh, or a criminal -- or any combination of the above -- to enjoy the offer of a livermush sandwich.