Hereís the thing about scrapple.
You donít really want to know whatís in it.
It comes in little gray slabs that look like half-hardened cement. And then thereís that white, congealed fat on the outside. Not exactly a feast for the eyes.
And unless youíre on the Atkins diet, itís probably not something you want to eat a lot of. (RAPA Scrapple in Bridgeville says its stuff is 88 percent fat free. Iím not sure if that makes me feel better or worse.)
Anyway, many of us have sort of a love-hate relationship with scrapple. Itís a wonder my husband still eats it at all. When he was a kid and his mom was away for a week, his dad took over the cooking. Unfortunately, his cooking skills were apparently limited to scrapple. So they ate scrapple sandwiches. Every day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
But in small doses, fried up just right, thereís nothing like it. The smell of scrapple frying in the morning -- that spicy, sausagey smell -- it reminds me of crisp, fall mornings.
I like my scrapple sliced really thin and very crispy on the outside. My husband favors his slices thicker. Itís a little tricky to cook both styles at the same time, but we cope.
First, make sure you have a good, sharp knife. Itís crucial for getting just the right thickness and keeping the slices intact. This is a trick I learned from my daughterís first day care provider. Weíd walk in in the morning and sheíd be serving up slices so thin you could practically read the newspaper through them. It made me want to sit down with the kids and chow.
The first few times I cooked scrapple, I made a mess of it. How hard can it be to cook this stuff, right? I mean, itís not exactly complicated. So why was my scrapple turning into piles of grayish muck?
Well, I read the directions (I know, I know) and discovered that the secret to keeping the slices from disintegrating into mush is a hot pan. If you get the pan good and hot before you throw you scrapple on, youíre almost there. Thereís another secret: donít try to flip it too soon. If you do, itíll fall apart.
That part took me a while to figure out. After all, how long can it take to cook a slice of grease, miscellaneous pig parts and seasoning? Apparently about eight minutes per side. Again, reading the directions helps.
Now, there are some who swear scrapple isnít worth eating unless itís deep fried. At one local family restaurant, a waiter once held forth on the secret to really fine scrapple: "You put it right in a Fry Daddy and let it go," he said. Yikes. Am I the only one who thinks thatís just a tad redundant?
Here in Sussex County, we donít realize what a regional thing scrapple is. We take it for granted that every local butcher has its own scrapple -- each one a little different from the next. When my mom visits my brother in Ohio, she always takes two things -- scrapple and TastyKakes.
So I guess it shouldnít surprise me that Bridgevilleís Apple-Scrapple Festival, set for Oct. 10 and 11, is by far the most asked-about event here at Sussex County Online. Year-round, we get asked almost daily for dates and information regarding the annual scrapple fest.
Folks at town hall said this week theyíve been fielding Apple-Scrapple calls every five minutes.
Not surprising, considering that upwards of 35,000 cram into little olí Bridgeville every year for the celebration that includes crafts and amusement rides in addition to lots of apple dishes -- and more than a few scrapple sandwiches.
Maybe my husbandís ready to eat just one more.