SHAUNA ANDERSON'S HOT CHITLIN TRAILER
Steam rises from the pint-size container of pork chitterlings on the counter of Shauna Anderson's Hot Chitlin Trailer. The heat is welcome on this frigid January day that marks the trailer's maiden voyage. Its mission: to deliver lunches of chitlins to workers throughout the Washington region. The first stop is the Presidential Building near Prince George's Plaza in Hyattsville, where Anderson and her crew have parked the trailer and stand waiting for their very first customer as a wary reporter takes his first bite.
Chitlins -- hog intestines -- are an acquired taste, and Anderson's are soft, chewy and lightly seasoned. But as she can attest, it's a taste that a lot of folks around here have not only acquired but actively seek out. For more than 10 years, Anderson has sold them at her Chitlin Market in Hyattsville, which recently moved to 5711 Ager Rd.
So why hit the road? Because too many people have strayed from the Southern staple over the years. "Chitlins have been ignored and neglected for so long," Anderson said.
One reason is the smell. Cleaning and cooking them takes hours, something that traditionally was done outdoors, where the odor simply drifted away. Indoors, it is a different story. "A lot of people won't allow their spouses to cook them in the house because of the smell," Anderson said, "so the mobile unit is perfect."
Anderson, 51, prepares the chitlins with her own seasoning sauce of vinegar, onions, white pepper and "secret seasonings." The sauce can be purchased for $5.99 for a 12.5-ounce bottle. For those who prefer to cook the chitlins themselves, a 4.5-pound bucket of cleaned but uncooked chitlins is available for $26.95.
The trailer sells one set lunch: chitlins, with sides of cornbread, tangy potato salad and collards stewed with smoked turkey ($13.70; chitlins only, $10.45). "All attention goes to the chitlins," Anderson said.
That's just fine with the first patron, Kiana Wells of Northeast Washington. She steps away from the trailer, peels off the lid and breathes in the steam. She takes a taste. "Just like I make them at home," she said, satisfied.
The Hot Chitlin Trailer makes stops in Hyattsville, New Carrollton, Beltsville or Alexandria, depending on the day of the week, from Tuesday through Friday. It stops in Landover and Largo on Sundays. For a schedule, call 866-436-9381 or visithttp:/
-- Matt McMillen
Matt McMillen last wrote for Food about the Retro Tea Room in Bowie.