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Repast Past

Turkey Day Treat

By Adrian Miller

I spent my first Stanford Thanksgiving with my some of my fellow frosh in Donner. About a week out from the holiday, it suddenly hit me—where was I going to get some chitlins? Could I possibly endure this holiday without them?

Chitlins, short for chitterlings, are fried or stewed pig’s intestines. Though many think “totally disgusting” when they hear of chitlins, my family thinks “must-have Thanksgiving delicacy.” I lamented my plight with John Towns, an older African-American who worked for Stern Hall Dining Service. If I could capture the sequence of emotions on his face, I’d say at first he was tremendously surprised that I ate chitlins, and then he gave me a “he’s one of us” look.

The day before Thanksgiving, there was a knock on my door. I opened it, and amazingly, there was John, with his distinctive silver Afro, holding a plate of chitlins, wrapped up and ready to eat! “Have a great Thanksgiving, Adrian!” he said, and merrily went on his way. Given the circumstances, that was the best plate of chitlins that I’ve ever had.

Adrian Miller, ’91, is a lawyer, writer and certified barbecue judge who lives in Denver.

Adapted from SOUL FOOD: THE SURPRISING STORY OF AN AMERICAN CUISINE, ONE PLATE AT A TIME by Adrian Miller. Copyright © 2013 by Adrian Miller.  Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.

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