Somebody posted a picture on social media recently.
It was a plate of fried liver and onions.
The caption read, “Fried Liver and Onions Yes or No?”
“Share if you vote yes!”
I was a mere lad living on Burns Street on Mansfield, Ohio’s near northside with my parents.
I’m not sure if my sister, Charlene was on the scene yet since I had a 3 year jump ahead of her on the family tree.
My Mom, who developed into a pretty decent cook over the years, decided to serve up a meal consisting of fried liver and onions with creamed potatoes.
Now, perhaps in the “June and Ward Cleaver” era of the early to mid 50’s, fried liver and onions with creamed potatoes was a meal that families wolfed down.
I just remember sitting at the dining table, looking at that nondescript glob of iron-rich meat smothered in onions and those creamed covered lumps of potatoes and thinking, “Mom, you’re joking, right?”
I’m sure I poked at the meat and the taters but after my tongue touched a piece of that liver, I was sure that dry slab of meat would not make it down my throat without at least a gag or two.
At some point of time during the dinner, my parents duly noted that I was not digging into the liver and onions, much less the creamed potatoes.
I do not remember what the sentence was, but I’m sure I got one of those, “Johnny, if you don’t eat your supper, you can’t have (fill in the blank)” or “there’s no dessert until you clean your plate.”
I’d be willing to bet I heard the “You know, there are children in China who would love to have something like that to eat!”
I didn’t say it out loud, but I’m sure I thought, “Well, okay…let’s box this up and send it to them!”
So, the Mexican stand-off continued until my Father stepped in and suggested putting my meal in the refrigerator until I decided to eat it.
Seemed like a reasonable compromise to this 3-4 year old until I was giving the impression that life as I knew it would end if I didn’t eat that liver and onions with creamed potatoes repast.
Now, I have a theory.
I think our youthful mouths were much more sensitive to different tastes and textures that they are as we age.
Years of way-too-hot coffee, strong drinks and steamy soups can make us unable to taste things today as we used to.
Now, science tells us we have 10,000 taste buds and they’re replaced every two weeks or so.
But I believe my youthful taste receptors were picking up on something in that amazing meal of liver and onions plus creamed potatoes that just made it unpalatable to this young lad.
The seven most common flavors detected by the tongue are “sweet, bitter, sour, salty, meat (unami), cool and hot.”
On “liver and onions and creamed potatoes night”, my taste buds were sensing the 8th flavor…”gaggy” or “retch”.
Those very sensitive microscopic hairs on my tongue were sending messages to youthful brain to have the gag reflex at the “Ready” position if this meal even makes it to my esophagus.
Mind you, there was no Tupperware or clear “cling wrap” back in the prehistoric time of my youth.
That plate was probably covered with wax paper and had a sheet of tin foil draped over it and tucked around the edges of the dinner wear.
I don’t recall being sent to my room or denied black and white, 4 channels-to-watch television.
However, later that evening, sensing my life was doomed unless I forced down that dinner, I shuffled to the “fridge” and grabbed the plate.
Here’s the other thing to remember.
No microwave oven in the early 50’s.
I was going to attempt to choke this plate of cold liver and onions and creamed potatoes down without even warming it.
In those days, it would have required oven time.
Luckily for me, my parents heard me rustling around in the kitchen and saw me poking at the congealed mass of nearly frosty meat and veggies with my fork.
I was given a pat on the head and got a reprieve from the governor, saving me from being poisoned.
Don’t know if I got dessert but I’ll lay odds I did get a peanut butter sandwich to quiet the roaring voices in my tummy.
Now, I’ve come to love grilled onions and my wife makes great creamed potatoes but these lips are still “virgin” when it comes to fried liver.
I must note, though, that the Gerber folks used to make a “liver soup” baby food that I really liked.
I used to eat that way past the age of normal consumption for baby foods.
Now, some of you are going to tell me that if it’s prepared properly, fried liver is wonderful.
Good for you.
You keep on believing that.
You can have my share.
I would believe that if liver and onions was that good, even properly prepared, you might see it on the menu right after the Big Mac or the Whopper.
I’ll get my iron from spinach.
Didn’t like that at one time, too, but maybe Popeye had something to do with that.
2 thoughts on “McLiver and Onions, Anyone?”
This was really funny! Great writing and nostalgia! I just tried deer liver and while it tasted “fine” I couldn’t get thoughts out of my head like, “these are strips of a giant leech full of human blood” or “there’s no grain to this ‘meat’, its more like a sponge. A blood sponge.” And then my husband and I joked about the McLiver and onions. I’m sure beef livers are just being discarded. Googling this idea led me to your blog.
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I’m glad to hear you enjoyed “McLiver and Onions, Anyone?” Thanks for the feedback.