Being a foster kid at Ms. Brown’s was almost like living at my grandparents’ home with a bunch of cousins, except ghetto. We had rules, she was strict, but we were allowed to be kids and have fun. For the rest of the summer, I almost forgot I was in foster care.
I shared a room with three other girls in foster care, two of which were sisters. There were a set of bunk beds and two twin beds in the room. Each of us had our own dresser and had 10 hangers to use in the closet for dress clothes for church (we went to church every Wednesday for bible study and ALL day Sunday), coats and other things.
Ms. Brown cooked every day. I was introduced to black eye peas, onion and liver, johnny cakes, grits, and pickled pig feet. In Ms. Brown kitchen, she had a large glass jar with murky greenish brown liquid. Listen, I am curious by nature. And for two weeks, I would stare at this jar that looked like what I imagined swamp water looked like. I would try tapping on the jar to see if something was alive in there. I tried tipping the jar to the side but it was way too heavy and I was scared I was either going to get busted or I would drop it. Neither scenario was an option I was willing to chance.
One day after a couple of weeks, I was in the kitchen getting some water and Ms. Brown’s oldest son came into the kitchen and unscrewed the red and white checkered lid off the mystery jar. I was gritty with anticipation, but when the lids was removed the stitched that followed made my eyes tear up. But I stood my ground slowly sipping on my water, because once I finished I would have to go back outside. He walked across the kitchen and opened the large utensil draw and pulled out a pair of BBQ tongs. He then got a bowl from the draining board and walked back over to the mystery jar. I stopped sipping and kept my eyes glued to what was going to be on the other end of the tongs when it was pulled out of the jar.
To my shock and horror it was a foot. A pig foot! I let out a gasp and Charles turned around and was surprise to see me.
“What you doing inside the house?” Charles asked.
“Water” I replayed holding up my cup with only a swallow of water left.
Charles pulled out the hot sauces in the cabinet over the jar.
“Put that cup down and take this into the den to Mom.”
“Yes sir!” I responded eagerly wanting a closer look at this detached foot, wondering what the hot sauce was for.
Charles handed me a piece of wonder bread before I left the kitchen. I walked to the den, where Ms. Brown was watching her stories.
“Come here baby, thank you dear”. Ms. Brown hardly ever called us by our names, but we didn’t mind, because she had a slew of cute positive names.
“Your welcome ma’am”
I stood wanting to see what she was going to do with the rubbery detached pig foot. To my horror, I watched her unscrew the the top of the hot sauce and started shaking the red liquid over the foot and on the bread. She took her fingers and pulled apart the foot exposing the joints and knuckles. As gross as this looked, I couldn’t turn away. She picked up a knuckle and popped it in her mouth and took a pinch of bread and dipped it in the liquid from the jar and hot sauce. When I heard the crunching in Ms. Brown’s mouth, I thought I could faint again. It was at this point, Ms. Brown noticed I was still standing there.
“Sweetie, you want some?”
I honestly did not think I had an answer. My curiosity seemed to be satisfied, but then I wanted to know how it was feel in my mouth, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted any parts of an animal’s foot in my mouth. Before I realized it, I had nodded my head indicating yes.
She extended her bowl towards me and pinched off a nice size chunk for me to take. It was soft. I slowly put it into my mouth and it melted. It melted into this fowl salty, pickled flavor that tested my gag reflex. I noticed Ms. Brown looking at me and trying to determine if she was going to give me more, but quickly realized that she did not have to worry about sharing anymore of her foot with me.
“Baby, go to the bathroom before you spit up on my rug!”
I ran to the bathroom and spat it out in the toilet and drank some water from the facet and tried to erase the experience from my tastebuds.
Let’s say, that was the last pickled meat I ever tried.