As my friend John has pointed out, it is almost a month since I last posted. It seems like only a few days, but I'm beginning to realize just how much time flies when your life is in total flux. I deeply apologize for my neglect, but I'm not sure that I can even express just how crazy things have been.
I have, however, discovered a few useful things. First off, I've noticed how comforting random bizarre thoughts can be when one is driving solo to and from New York. On my last trip northward, I began to wonder if General George S. Patton was gay. I think there's some interesting circumstantial "evidence" that suggests that he might have been. This, of course, leads to all sorts of interesting possibilities, my exploration of which made the hours of driving through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania fly by much more quickly.
I've also taken to stopping off at roadside museums and stores, as doing so breaks up the monotony of the highway, and restores blood flow to my ass. Over the next few posts, I'm going to tell you about some little gems I've found that you should check out if you ever find yourself trapped on I-81 or I-78 for a considerable period of time. Today's special attraction is Dietrich's Meats: Dietrich's Meats
Okay, I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for bizarre food attractions, so it was hard for me to resist the sign for Dietrich's meats. After a few trips, I just stopped trying. Besides, I needed to get a present for my pal Tom, who watched my cats, and we'd always enjoyed daring each other to try strange new foods. Dietrich's meats seemed like the perfect place to up the ante.
Outside, Dietrich's is all lurid signs advertising various meaty temptations. However, once I came through the front door, I immediately noticed the quiet hush of the store, the smoky scent of the cured meats, and the simple, honorable wood walls. I realized that this was, indeed, a church. A church dedicated to meat.
The back wall of the store was dominated by a huge refrigerated case and butcher counter. However, before I could approach the holiest of holies, I looked over the lesser offerings on the shelves. Homemade Chow-Chow. Homemade Sauerkraut. Homemade jams, jellies, and relishes. There were dozens of pies, dominated by the proud Shoefly. Wandering toward the meat case, I noticed a huge wooden table covered in smoked meats. There was a whole smoked hog's head, accompanied by smoked feet, ears, and snouts. There were cured bolognas of every stripe. And that was only the beginning.
Looking at the wonders that filled the refrigerated case, I had to resist the urge to kneel. It was filled with every kind of smoked, processed meat imaginable. Homemade Westphalia ham, liverwurst, kielbasa, bratwurst, kishka, muttwurst, hot dogs, liver pudding, headcheese, souse, and a hundred other wonders, both delectable and disturbing, fought for elbow room in the crowded case. I took a deep breath; to quote Hostel
, this was the kind of place where you could spend all your money. Employing reserves of willpower that I never knew existed, I managed to keep the tab down to $20. However, even that modest sum went a long way: I bought two kinds of bologna, liverwurst, liver pudding, headcheese, shoefly pie, horseradish cheese, and a few other little nibbles. As far as eating these foods, well, let me just say that I never thought liverwurst could be transcendent. Regarding headcheese, I admit that I was terrified, but I am now a true believer. Yes, I know how it's made. Shut up.
I've been back a couple of times now, and am working my way throught everything in the case. To be honest, the liver pudding was a bit much, and I don't love the Lebanon balogna, but these minor obstacles haven't stopped, or even slowed, my enthusiasm for the greatest meat market in the land. Dietrich's has officially become a key stop on my North/South run, and my sister's fiancee, Rich, has decided that he has to add some of Dietrich's meats to the menu in the Manhattan restaurant where he cooks. If you want to check it out, click here
Next post: The National Rifle Association Museum
Labels: Dietrich's Meats, headcheese, Hostel, liverwurst, Patton