I have on my desk a little souvenir from a producing trip that never fails to amuse and horrify my colleagues. It's a jar filled with clear liquid and fleshy, pinkish, sort-of-triangular blobs. They look kind of like lungs, actually. But they're not. They're pickled pigs lips. I picked these up in a little grocery store in Gramercy, La., a few years ago. I found grocery stores in Louisiana endlessly fascinating. They're stocked with all kinds of things you don't find anywhere else. So as I was wandering the aisles, I spotted this jar on a bottom shelf. All I could read initially was "Pickled Pigs..." I assumed the missing word would probably be "feet," or maybe "ears." But as soon as I saw the word "lips," I knew I had to have it. I mean, I didn't even know pigs had lips.
My colleague, Debbie Elliott, who lived in the South for years, had never heard of pickled pigs lips. And most other Southerners I've talked to haven't either. So I've been trying to find out as much about them as I can.
So far, this is what I know: You used to only be able to find them in south-central Louisiana and the southwest corner of Mississippi. But now, you can easily order them on the Web. They're a bar snack — you usually find them in a big jar on the counter. But you don't just reach into the jar and pop one in your mouth. Oh no. There's a ritual. You take small a bag of potato chips and, without opening it, crush the contents. Then open the bag, drop in a lip, close it up and shake it well to coat the lip with the chips. Open the bag, take a bite and, um, enjoy. Now, I have never tried one of these things. And I don't intend to. And none of my colleagues has ever taken me up on my standing offer to help themselves.
So, that's what I know. If you have any information or stories of your own about pickled pigs lips, we at Mixed Signals would love to hear from you.