“Livermush hails from North Carolina hilltops and foothills that once hummed with tractors, textile mills and furniture factories. Families that ate livermush lived frugally and made do with homemade. But most started buying commercially made once it became available in country and company stores during the Depression.
“Unlike bacon and country ham (or, for that matter, chitlins), livermush never took off. To this day, the epicenter of livermush is a handful of counties in western North Carolina where the five commercial producers — Mack’s, Neese’s, Jenkins, Hunter’s and Corriher’s — remain.
“I was served plenty of livermush when I was a little kid, mostly because my granddaddy loved it. I tapered off livermush as I grew up and headed out into the world….
“For about 30 years, I made one annual exception, at the North Carolina State Fair. Neese’s and/or Jenkins always had a booth in the Jim Graham Building, where workers cut bricks of livermush into bites the size of sugar cubes, fried them up and stabbed them onto frill picks. Fairgoers would queue patiently, awaiting their turn to lift a pick from the tray and pop that free bite into their mouths as though it were a communion wafer….
“These days I don’t eat livermush as often as I could, but I defend it as often as I can…. I am from western North Carolina, and I know my place.