What Are Pork Chitterlings?

pork-chitterlings Credit: LWYang/CC-BY-2.0

Pork chitterlings are the intestines of a pig. They are popular in the United States and are commonly known as chitlins. Pork chitterlings are served more during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays accompanied by side dishes of collard greens and other traditional Southern foods.

Pork chitterlings are hard to clean and can have a powerful, unpleasant odor. Commercially purchased chitterlings have been partially cleaned, but they still need to be cleaned before cooking. This ensures that bacterial contamination and illness are avoided.

African American slaves in early America did not have many food choices and were given scraps of animal meat, which their owners deemed unacceptable for eating. The West African tradition of eating all edible parts of animals and plants allowed the slaves to survive.