In celebration of the Cincinnati Bengals returning to the Super Bowl after an absence of more than three decades, I will post a unique Queen City Flavor Experience each day until the big day. Many regions of this country developed food or drink preferences that have withstood the national big brands swamping America with their saturated marketing and bland sameness. I grew up in and around Cincinnati and all of these brands stuck with me as I traveled far and wide to live in other places. If you’ve never lived in or traveled through Cincinnati, these brands may surprise you and some people, on first taste, don’t fall in love with them. But to me, they are the flavors of my youth and I love them dearly. Let me explain…
From about 1850 to 1875, Cincinnati had a nickname – Porkopolis. Several factors came together to create this sobriquet. In those days of the newly settled western expanse, farmers found raising hogs to be a fast and profitable enterprise and Cincinnati was at the center of both riverboat and railroad traffic. That made it relatively easy to bring animals to the processing centers and then ship out butchered pork products in brine filled barrels (being before easy refrigeration). This coincided with a large population of recent German immigrants who provided the workforce. Though the industry dispersed as the 20th century started, the reputation lives on in Cincinnati which has adopted pigs with wings as sort of a spirit animal with representations throughout the city’s culture. Pigs appear to be able to fly after all.
The German butchers were productive and efficient. In any such industry it is easy to sell the bacon and prime cuts, there are always remaining bits of the animal left that are not worth shipping out. The immigrants used recipes from their home culture to create a protein packed mush that was mixed with pin oats and other ingredients, then often dried and packaged as sausage and wurst for their families and neighbors. Modern industry has found other uses for the the snout to tail parts that originally were ground for the treat we call Goetta. Now standard ground pork and beef and traditional flavorings are combined to carry on the tradition. But it is still not much known outside of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
There are several companies that produce it, but one of the easiest to order it from is a brand called Glier’s. They make many sausages and snared the Goetta.com URL. You can visit them here by clicking this link:
Every year they have a festival where they use Goetta to make pizza toppings, brats, and many innovative uses. But it is most frequently consumed as a breakfast sausage and that is how I know them best. I recently cooked some up and here is my current household supply.
As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes