One of my goals for 2012 was to try new foods. This goes hand in hand with not only trying new foods but also at times trying to be more healthy. I figured I'd start a new little thing of "She tried it, and...." I'll let you know what I've tried and whether or not I liked it, or hated it.
I got the year started off right - almost by accident with this goal of trying new things. I hoped to at least once a month, try a new food. After a long, emotional day on New Years Day. Saying good-bye to Mike's great uncle and witnessing the most amazing military funeral, his family and I decided we would meet up for dinner. Not many places, of the affordable nature were open on New Years Day so we opted for Cracker Barrel. Yes I realize that this isn't really healthy eating 101, but it was homestyle, comforting and nice to have the family at a table together, and for once letting his mom who usually prepares all our family meals, get a chance to rest after her long weekend of caring for her Aunt and family.
I settled on the Chicken and Dumplings and lots of veggies. Sure they were covered in butter but like I said I was going for comfort food. That being said, I did make an effort to not eat myself silly. All of the items on my plate were things I had tried before, but Mike's brother's girlfriend, B had brought his father some Black Eyed Peas from her grandmother. The tradition of pork and black eyed peas is a big one here in the South and Mike's dad was not going to be content until he had some. This also was not a new meal for me. Mike's father passed around the bowl of good faith and luck to us all who wanted to eat a bit and Mike and I took our share of a few bites on our plate. They were tasty and I could almost feel the happy thoughts for 2012 fill my belly.
B also had another bag hidden in her purse and passed that out as well. Apparently her grandmother armed her with an arsenal of good luck food to come to our meal with. Almost as if we were at the movies smuggling in our own candy we passed the bag around the table. Normally I would have freaked out when she told me what it was, but I'm feeling more adventurous these days. B explained it was hog jaw. Funny, it looked like bacon. Mike grabbed a bit and handed his brother and I the bag. His youngest Brother [he has 3 brothers and 2 sisters, big family!] and I agreed to split a piece but with a rush of courage I stated that NO I would just get my own and try it all.
Here I was sitting at a table holding a bit of hog jaw in my hand. It looked like bacon, it smelled like bacon but it was much thicker than any slice of bacon I'd ever eaten. I took one moment to think about it and then quickly took a bite. Immediately the flavor filled my mouth and it was amazing. Better than any bacon I had ever tasted. Not quite as gutsy as say eating a pigs foot or cheek but I was eating hog jaw. WOW! And I like it... a lot!
The second item B got me to try was a bite of her cooked cabbage she ordered as a side. I've never liked cabbage unless it was red, raw and in my salad as a child. I'm not a huge fan of coleslaw either but will eat it from time to time if it's tasty. I was hesitant that I wouldn't like it but after taking a bite realized it was delicious. And I started thinking something I might like to add to my book of recipes to cook. The scent of cooked cabbage far outweighs the taste for sure. I was expecting a pungent flavor but it was mild and very, very enjoyable. Eating this takes me one step closer to trying a Reuben sandwich, for which I was always fearful to eat with the tangy cabbage on top.... or SourCRAP as I called it when I was a child.
Boiled Cabbage & Hog Jaw
VERDICT: Delicious! And while I would never make hog jaw at home, I might have to stop by B's grandma's house in the future to get my fix!
P.S. I wasn't 100% in love with the chicken and dumplings from Cracker Barrel. The rest of the veggies were tasty though. I really hate going out to eat and feeling like I could have made the meal better at home, myself. Tip for 2012, if you can make it at home, it's best not to order it while out unless you know it's going to knock your socks off.