An Iconic Dish from the South

An Iconic Dish from the South

Big Apple Inn, located in Mississippi, has begun serving customers for a long time. It is famous for its original sandwich which has attracted many people. What’s interesting is that the sandwich’s main ingredient is pig ears, one of the unwanted parts of the animal. This phenomenal dish was found with a tremendous background.

The great tale started almost a century ago when Lee’s great-grandfather, Juan “Big John” Mora began selling hot tamales on streets. He then owned a restaurant in which he sold tamales and bologna – now still on The Big Apple’s menu.

But the sandwich, the Inn’s most iconic dish, was unintentionally invented. Usually, cooks would process only the meat and waste other ‘useless’ parts of the pig. Who knows that this ‘useless’ piece could actually be processed into this tasty and phenomenal pig ear sandwich?

The cooking process of pig ear surprisingly took so many efforts especially for Big John as a first-timer. He tried many ways to serve such ingredients including deep-frying, grilling, and boiling. It turns out that he succeeded in serving tender pig ears by boiling them for two days. With the help of pressure cooker technology, it is now easier to boil raw meat – taking only two hours. Big John served the popular pig ear sandwich with slaw and chilli.

Pig ear sandwich tastes very phenomenal just like sweet bacon. The glutinous pig ear, combined with local smoked sausage, creates a good impression in customers’ hearts. Not to mention the affordable price which does not increase as much as other restaurants would do. “In all that time, the price has only gone up a penny or two every year. For those of us with little or no money, it means we can still eat,” (Urwin, 2020)

Geno Lee, the current owner and great-grandson of the founder said that he wants to continue managing Big Apple Inn. He once dreamed to be a priest, yet he decided to dedicate his life to Farish Street people by running the Inn. He has decided a wise choice and I am sure that he could live his life to the fullest by being a blessing to others. In fact, the genius idea of turning pig ears into a tasty dish is also used by others. People start selling the exact same dish and that turns into satisfaction for Lee, as stated in Urwin (2020)’s article.

To end this, my personal opinion is that nothing could stop us from inventing new creations, especially from things that others consider as ‘useless’. “Well, you know something? All the unwanted bits of the pig – the feet, the tail, the chitterlings (intestines) and the ears – back in the day, it was what the slave owners used to give to the enslaved for their weekly rations. It’s a wonderful thing that what was once about struggle and survival has been turned over time into a thing of comfort. Soul food. It’s simple, but it’s delicious.” (Urwin, 2020) Big John has bravely tried new steps of innovation in the cooking world that even his generations take part in enjoying the pride.

the pig ear sandwich. Source:


Urwin, S. (2020) Pig ear sandwich: An iconic dish of the American South. Retrieved from

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