Monday, March 12, 2012

Everything But the Oink

Dateline: Keysers Ridge, Maryland
A steady rain was falling when I arose this morning around 5:30am outside Columbus, Ohio. A quick cup of coffee and I was on the road before 7am and drove through the rain until Cambridge, in eastern Ohio. Near Zanesville I was treated to a beautiful sunrise sandwiched between the rolling hills and the slate gray overcast at the leading edge of the bad weather. When the rain stopped, I pulled off the highway for some more coffee, and by the time I resumed my trip the rain had caught up with me and continued as a steady drizzle until I drove out of it as I crossed the Ohio River at Wheeling, West Virginia.

From Wheeling I retraced my route through the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania on US Route 40 - the National Road - which I am now following all the way to its eastern terminus, in Cumberland, Maryland, where construction on this first US federal highway began in 1811. I have stopped here in Keysers Ridge, in far western corner of Maryland, for a late breakfast. I know I am getting close to home when I can find scrapple on the menu.

I never heard of scrapple until I moved to Maryland in 1976, but I have come to enjoy it as much, if not more, than those here in the Mid-Atlantic states, some of whom have been raised on it all their lives. You might not share my taste for it, if you knew what it is and how it is made, but I can assure you it tastes better than it sounds. Scrapple is simple enough - a mixture of pork offal - scraps and trimmings . . . "everything but the oink" - combined with flour or cornmeal (I prefer the latter) and formed into a grayish loaf and refrigerated. Sliced thin or thick, it is fried in just a little bacon grease until the outside is a golden brown while the insides remain soft and juicy. It is frequently served with eggs as a breakfast meat in lieu of bacon or sausage, but I prefer it by itself, drizzled with some local Maryland maple syrup. It doesn't get much better than this.

Well fed, gassed up and in no particular hurry, I will continue east on the National Road through Grantsville, Frostburg, to Cumberland. I should be home in late afternoon, hopefully before the Washington rush hour begins in earnest. Fourteen days on the road and 3200 miles clicked off on the odometer. I never tire of a good road trip.

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