Every day you wake up is a reason to celebrate, and not just because you managed to make it through the night to see the light of day once again. But every day on the calendar has been designated as a day to honor and celebrate someone, some people, or just some random thing.
Not all of these days have their own sections in Hallmark to buy cards for, although you may feel inclined to order a fruit basket to be shipped to the office or someone’s home to mark the occasion. On this day, however, you can celebrate with a plate of scrapple, the fruitcake of your breakfast routine.
— Shirley's Galaxy?? (@ShirleyClowder) November 9, 2017
Unless you are from the Philadelphia region, you may not be too familiar with scrapple. Perhaps you have heard the name or maybe you’ve even seen an image of the signature Pennsylvania Dutch breakfast meat concoction, yet you have never taken a bite into one out of pure fear or the lack of opportunity to put a fork in one.
And the description alone of what exactly makes up a slab of scrapple and how it is made may be enough to turn you off on the idea entirely. And I am here to tell you, you are not exactly missing anything if that is the case. It may be a bit sacreligouos of me to say given my Philadelphia area roots, but perhaps this is one line I rarely dare to cross given I grew up in the suburbs outside of the city limits. Hence why I call myself a “Philly area native” and not a “Philly native” when I have to explain where I am from.
#NationalScrappleDay I support this but scrapple looks like wet dryer lint. Taste like meat party mix.
— Torin Matthews (@TorinMatthews_f) November 9, 2017
So what exactly is scrapple? Essentially, it is a way to make use of any leftover pork or meat that was used to make other meat products. It is an exercise in not wasting any bit of food by mashing together the remains of your meat products with the bones, boiled to make a broth and mixed with cornmeal after separating the bones from the broth. You have just made what amounts to a meatloaf. It may not sound too appetizing, but it is something still worth trying at least once in your life. Some people despise meatloaf. Others are fine with it. Your appetite for scrapple will probably fall in line with your opinions on meatloaf.
In Philadelphia, the local residents identify with a few things that everyone knows about; their passion for sports, Rocky, and cheesesteaks. Scrapple may as well be included in that mix too, because you will find it nearly everywhere in the city. It is the staple of a not-so-well-balanced diet. If you ask for a suggestion for what to have for breakfast while in town, you will undoubtedly be advised to try some scrapple. You can get it in restaurants or on the street from a vendor because, in Philly, there is no wrong way to eat scrapple.
You can have it alongside a helping of scrambled eggs. You can have it on a roll. You include it as an egg sandwich. You can eat it as a standalone menu item. You can dice it up and make a side dish out of it. The possibilities are endless.
But what is it about scrapple that makes Philadelphians love this meat so much?
It is likely because scrapple is the gritty underdog on the breakfast menu. It may not be pretty, but it’s going to fight to fill your appetite as best it can. And Philadelphia likes a gritty underdog. It takes pride in being disrespected, as scrapple largely is on the national scale, either from being ridiculed or just forgotten about. It’s that kind of stance that Philly can get behind. Scrapple has been mocked for years, and odds are much of the mockery has been conducted by those who never even thought to give scrapple a try.
As I alluded to earlier, I’m not exactly going to go to the diner and request for a slab of scrapple when I can have a side of sausage or bacon with my eggs, but I also would not be opposed to having it on the same plate if it was my only option. Scrapple is sort of like haggis in a sense. Like scrapple, the mere thought of the process that goes into making the Scottish dish of haggis alone is enough to turn your stomach off to the idea of digesting it. But if you ever get a chance to give it a try, you may realize it’s not bad at all.
Tastes may vary, of course, but if you get a chance to have some scrapple today, do yourself a favor and try something new. And if that doesn’t work for you, you can always make up for it with a good Philly cheesesteak for lunch or dinner.