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Kent Bernhardt: Livermush

For years, I’ve been watching people in my favorite local eatery order livermush with their eggs for breakfast.

Not even a small part of me wants to join them.

I’m a bacon-sausage guy myself, so I’ve never jumped on the livermush bandwagon. But I’ve learned that people around here are passionate about their favorite liver-flavored breakfast meat.

Several weeks ago after reading someone’s Facebook post about an actual Livermush Festival, I started poking around in the world of this strange food. I even wondered aloud if they have a livermush queen at this festival.

It turns out they do. Well, at least a Little Miss Livermush. I wonder if she’s known as “Miss Mush”?

I’m stubborn, so my views on livermush are probably unchangeable. In fact, I don’t really like liver anything; liver pudding, liver pate, or songs with liver in the title, like “50 Ways to Leave Your Liver”.

I might, however, visit Liverpool.

I grew up in a household where liver was served as the meat course from time to time. My parents seemed to really like it, but we kids thought it tasted like it was prepared inside a dirty gym sock.

It didn’t help that fried liver smells a little like friend chicken when it’s being prepared. On numerous occasions, I walked in the door to the smell of my favorite poultry dish, only to be disappointed when I learned the truth.

Fried liver – again.

Livermush may taste different for all I know. I’ve never given it a chance. I refuse to order it in a restaurant. If you offer me a bite of yours, I’ll probably pass.

Wikipedia, the source of all true knowledge, says livermush is made of pig liver, parts of the head, cornmeal, and spices like pepper and sage.

In reality, that’s describes most southern food. If you took a tennis shoe, rolled it in cornmeal and spices and deep fried it, most of us would eat it if it had grits on the side.

The article continues to say that it is prepared much the same as spam, which is a great comfort to me. You put it in a pan and fry it up just to the point before someone says, “Hey, what’s burning?”

Then, you serve it to your smiling family and they beg for more. Except at my house.

Three towns in North Carolina host major livermush events, the largest of which can be found in Shelby. In fact, the mayor of Shelby proclaimed that “livermush is the most delicious, most economical and most versatile of meats.”

But let’s be honest. What else would the Mayor of Shelby say at the annual Livermush Festival?

“Folks, I don’t really care for the stuff, but ya’ll like it, so have at it.”

I respect the enthusiasm for this true southern delicacy, but I’ll still keep my distance for now, if you don’t mind.

However, if fate should find me in Shelby at the next festival, curiosity may get the best of me.


Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.

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