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Farm Fresh Food Supplier's Pickled Pigs Lips & Old Vienna of St. Louis Red Hot Riplets Hot Barbecue Flavored Ridged Potato Chips 

Pigs Lips
Pete's Shur Sav
7434 Olive Boulevard, University City
Red Hot Riplets
50 cents
Riverfront Times vending machine

Mama used to say that anything worth eating is worth eating right.

That dictum's served me well over the years. The kudzu-like sun-dried tomato craze that strangled sandwiches and salads through much of the 1990s never worried me. You see, Mom taught me that if you take a roma tomato, cut it in half, add a dash of salt, and slow-roast it at 250 degrees for four hours, you'll concentrate the sugars, giving the fruit an earthy depth. But unlike its sun-dried cousin, the oven-roasted tomato retains a bit of moisture, making it — unlike those vulcanized strips of tomato leather pimped out as "sun-dried" — ideal for salads, pizzas and, yes, sandwiches.

We should always eat right.

How, then, does one best eat the rose-colored contents of a sachet of Farm Fresh Food Supplier's Pickled Pigs Lips?

Louisiana-style, of course.

In this case that means first crushing a bag of Old Vienna of St. Louis Red Hot Riplets Hot Barbecue Flavored Ridged Potato Chips. Once they're thoroughly pulverized, unseal the bag of Red Hot Riplets and gingerly drop a pickled pig lip into the Riplet dust.

Shake vigorously.

We'll eat our creation soon enough, but first, an aside: Farm Fresh Food Supplier's Pickled Pigs Lips have a pleasing resiliency in the bag. Press against them all you like; they'll spring back like the firmed haunch of a suckling piglet. Once they're out of the bag, though, it's another matter. Rose-colored and curled in on itself, an individual Farm Fresh Food Supplier's Pickled Pig Lip looks less like a pig lip than like the plucked heart of some mid-size mammal, a golden retriever, perhaps. But any coronary associations vanish as your finger lights upon the pig stubble an anonymous hand at Farm Fresh Food Supplier has shaven from the lip.

But I digress.

As an Old Vienna of St. Louis Red Hot Riplets Hot Barbecue Flavored Ridged Potato Chip-encrusted pig lip emerges from the bag, it looks a little like a pistachio-encrusted lamb chop. In other words, it looks almost edible.

But then the lip's vinegar wash zings the nostril, and I can't but remember the pickled ears, ankles and sundry porcine integument that have so often bested me. Ah, but it's too late. Pig lip has already met Malcolm tongue, and — I'm almost chagrined to say it — it's not so bad.

This shake-and-slurp concoction has a really nice kick. It's crunchy on the outside. It provides a hint of sugar, followed by a lovely note of smoke-infused paprika. A dose of salt accentuates the pepper, lending it a spicy clarity.

This transmogrified delicacy even has a finish that drifts into...wait a second! This tastes exactly like a bag of Old Vienna of St. Louis Red Hot Riplets Hot Barbecue Flavored Ridged Potato Chips!

And as the Red Hot Riplet dust dissipates, it is overwhelmed by the soft-fleshed piggyness of the Farm Fresh Food Supplier's Pickled Pig Lip it had masked. Once again I find myself gnawing on a unspeakable morsel of vinegary pig. And once again I'm struck by a question that has dogged me since I first took up documenting my consumption of beasty bits:

Why is it that we only pickle pig parts? Why not calf, or chicken? They certainly couldn't be any worse than the pig lip that at this very moment is pursing its way down my throat....

Then again, Mama had another bit of advice for me: Some questions are better left unanswered.

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July 29, 2020

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