I don’t think that I’ve ever visited my parents home in South Carolina and not been served fried fish. Bream, catfish, striped bass, carp, spots… if Dad can catch it believe me it will be dusted in cornmeal and spice and swimming in hot grease before you can say “pass the tartar sauce”…or “fix me some grits”.
He also makes a soup filled with porky deliciousness that he called “stone soup”. I first heard of stone soup in an old folk tale. Here’s an abbreviated version of one such tale: A poor traveler sets up a soup pot with water and drops in a stone. Curious villagers begin to contribute bits of veggies and meat until they have a delicious meal. What Dad makes is a little different. His version is what would have been made if that story took place in a small town in the South where the locals had bits of pig to spare, an ear here or a tail there and what you end up with is the most delicious concoction of a tomato broth with a hot sauce bite and a vinegar kick . Some veggies appear, some onion and peppers, but what’s most spectacular are the succulent pig parts. Everything but the squeal is in this soup and it’s all cooked for a super long time, until the most unruly part of the pig gives in. I could not identify all the parts I ate but I’m sure there were some pigs feet, tails, ears and sausage. And it was beautiful. My favorite part of the dish is the sticky, gelatinousness that coats your lips and fingers after sucking the tender meat from the bones.
Stone Soup-Pork and Tomato Stew
- 2 pounds of pig feet tails and ears
- 6 cups of water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cans 10.75 oz cans Condensed Tomato Soup
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1 pound smoked sausage cut into 1/2 inch slices
- Hot sauce to taste
- Wash the pig parts (singe off any hairs over an open flame if necessary) put them in a large stock pot and cover with 6 cups of water. Add the bay leaves, oregano, salt and vinegar and simmer for 3-4 hours, until the pig parts are tender.
- Add onions, red bell pepper, sausage and condensed tomato soup and simmer for 15 minutes more.
- Add hot sauce to taste
We get together for a fish fry at my parents house a few times a year. Family fish fries with traditional foods like fried fish, greens and stewed pork remind me of family members that have passed on. All these dishes have been passed down through generations and I imagine my ancestors sitting around a table sharing food like this and stories of struggles and success.
Now that our bellies are full it’s time to take a garden tour. My Mom has the greenest of green thumbs and puts everything she grows to good use. Mom makes delicious pear relish from the trees in her garden, I’ve got to get that recipe. She’s got a little bit of everything in her garden but here are a few highlights.
I was born in New York but both of my parents are from South Carolina. Many of my ancestors have worked this sandy soil. From slavery to sharecropping to finally owning their own land we have certainly come a long way.. Still though, we have far to go. My parents grew up as sharecroppers where they would work someone else’s land for a share of the crops. Often having to pay exorbitant fees to the land owner for seed and tools, many sharecroppers owed money to the land owner making this a less than ideal situation.
They moved away from S.C. to N.Y. (my Dad spent some time in the Army before settling in the Bronx) to seek opportunities for work and education, which they found. They raised three children in Queens and then moved back to South Carolina, right back to their home town to retire-grow gardens and go fishing.
This is part of the #LetsLunch series topic of #Memorial. Please read the lovely posts by our #LetsLunch family:
Betty Ann Besa-Quirino – How to make Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting and “Roses” for Mama
Lisa Goldberg – Remembering Yolan Frank and her Legendary Chiffon Cake
SpiceBox Travels – Khoresht-E Bademjan (Persian Eggplant and Lamb Stew)
Free Range Cookies – Lemon Pie Ice Cream