What are Chitlins?

Chitlins, formally known as chitterlings, is a soul food delicacy typically made from the small intestines of a pig. First, chitlins must be thoroughly cleaned. After chitlins are cleaned, they are typically boiled or fried. In America, chitlins are a dish with deep roots in African-American history, particularly in the south. However, pig intestines, what Americans call chitterlings or chitlins, are enjoyed throughout the world in a variety of cultures: Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

The History of Chitlins

African-American slaves were given the leftover parts of the pig that the slave owner and his family chose not to consume. What was originally seen as undesirable became a soul food classic. Many African-American families have been cleaning, cooking, and eating chitlins for generations. Family recipes are passed down in tradition. Strong opinions on chitlins: how to prepare them and if they are enjoyable, add a spark to family gatherings.

All chitterling dishes are not equal. If not cleaned properly, this dish can have a foul smell and be tough to chew. However, when properly cleaned, chitlins can be delicious. The cleaning process for chitlins can take several hours. Cleaning chitterlings is very important in making sure that the dish tastes amazing and is safe to eat. The preparation of chitlins on holidays became a family tradition celebrated in thousands of American households. But what about the rest of the world?

Chitlins are enjoyed in certain parts of Europe- The Balkans, Greece, Spain, and Turkey to name a few. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitterlings) France has an expensive dish called Tricandilles that is made with pig intestines. The French even made a sausage made out of chitterlings called Andouillette that is popular as well.

Chitlins are also popular in Latin America. In Mexico, chitterlings are cleaned, fried, and added to tacos with a tomatillo salsa. This dish is called Tripas. The spicy salsa, lime, and a little salt compliment the fried chitlins perfectly and enhance the dish by adding texture and flavor.

In certain parts of Asia-China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines- chitterlings are commonly used in native dishes. Koreans and Filipinos eat chitlins in a stew along with vegetables. Filipinos grill chitterlings and serve them as a street food. A similar “street food style” dish is popular in Japan as well. In Japan, the Japanese drink sloe gin, an alcoholic beverage, with their chitterlings. The Chinese eat chitterlings, which are made from the small intestines of the pig, and also have many dishes made from small intestines and large intestines as well. It is said that the large intestines are fattier and have been known to have a stronger smell during the cooking process.  

In America, Chitlins are a part of African American culture, they are a part of Mr. J’s Tamales & Chili culture as well. Mr. J’s Tamales & Chili has been proudly producing America’s best-cleaned chitterlings for over 30 years and counting. We triple clean our chitterlings, freeze them fresh, and supply numerous grocery stores throughout California: Ralph’s, Food4Less, Von’s, and Smart&Final. We supply “mom and pop” stores throughout the nation! If you would like to buy chitlins, use our store locator to find a store near you or order on Amazon and we will ship our chitlins to you clean and ready to cook.

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