Many people my age had parents who thought it was a smart idea to feed their children liver. They knew it was a good source of iron, something everyone needed. Once a month in my house, platters of liver and onions circulated the dining room table. I could smell it frying in the pan an hour before dinner was to be served, and I would contemplate my escape. The nights I was forced to eat liver with a side dish of succotash (lima beans mixed with corn) was pure hell on earth. Even a kid knows that the grouping of those two foods is a terrible, unpalatable combination of flavors, and I would have sold my six-year-old soul to get out of eating one spoonful of it. I tried slipping it under the table to the dog, but Mom caught on to that real quick—especially when the dog started gagging. He didn’t like that junk any more than I did. My next trick was to fake cough between bites and spit it into my dinner napkin. Problem was, my siblings were doing the same thing, and after awhile my mother figured out what was in those large, wadded-up napkins she kept finding in the trash.
Fast foward forty years to my own kitchen, a liver-free zone, even though I’m married to a liver connoisseur. We should have included a liver clause in our wedding vows exempting me from ever serving the vile meat in our house. My husband found a kindred spirit in our neighbor, who shares his taste for liver, and fries it up just the way he likes it—smothered in onions. I don’t care what you smother it with, whether it’s ketchup (which makes everything taste better) or seasoning—nothing is going to cover up the fact that you’re eating organ meat. Just the thought of it makes me want to consider vegetarianism.
I was anemic with all of my pregnancies, and the doctors encouraged me to increase my iron intake through various foods and supplements. For me, liver was never an option. I stuck with spinach and beets to boost my drooping energy. A lot of doctors recommend additional iron in the diet during menopause to help beat fatigue, and that includes the consumption of liver. The meat, which is high in B12 and protein, might be good for premenopausal women, but for older women, the high levels of iron can increase heart disease. The liver is the filter system in the body, and it can be full of pesticides and hormones. It is the organ that produces the nasty, yellowish-green bile that helps with digestion. Who in their right mind wants to eat that?! It’s gross to look at, it smells weird and it has the texture of chalky meat. Doesn’t that just sound like something you’d want to chow down on? The next time you order a plate of calf’s liver, just remember you’re porking out on ol’ Bessie’s baby cow. That’s about as appetizing as an offering of blood sausage with cod liver oil on the side.
After twenty-eight years of marriage, my husband still begs for liver and onions. I tell him to go to the neighbor’s house for it. When he comes home in a liver-induced coma, I thank the Lord for de-livering me from liver.