While trolling for spiral-bound cookbooks in my favorite section of McKay’s Used Books, I found Ernest Mickler’s White Trash Cooking II: Recipes for Gatherins, and had to find Volume I. Had to order it from Amazon, in fact.
It arrived two days ago. And what a gorgeous thing it is.
So gorgeous that the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, no less, wrote of it:
I have never seen a sociological document of such beauty — the photographs are shattering. I shall treasure it always… Now that it’s harder than ever to identify the genuine article on sight — with two generations of prosperity white trash looks like gentry — we’ve long needed something other than the ballot box to remind us of their presence: White Trash Cooking is a beautiful testament to a stubborn people of proud and poignant heritage. - Harper Lee
It is funny, oh yes: Mock Cooter Stew. Russian Communist Tea Cakes. Mama Leila’s Hand-Me-Down Oven-Baked Possum. But the humor is the best kind of all, stemming from a deep and genuine affection — and yes, even respect — for the mamas and aunties who did the best they could, mostly with very little indeed.
Never in my whole put-together life, writes the author,
Could I write down on paper a hard, fast definition of White Trash… But the first thing you’ve got to understand is that there’s white trash and there’s White Trash. Manners and pride separate the two. Common white trash has very little in the way of pride, and manners to speak of, and hardly any respect for anybody or anything. But where I come from, you never failed to say “yes ma’m” and “no sir,” never sat on a made-up bed (or put your hat on it), never opened someone else’s icebox, never left food on your plate, never left the table without permission, and never forgot to say “thank you” for the teeniest favor. That’s the way the ones before us were raised and that’s the way they raised us in the South.
… But rather than runnin’ around willy-nilly telling stories (which I could do all day long), it might be quicker to get to what I mean by White Trash cooking if, as Betty Sue says, we go straight to the kitchen and “get it did.”
While the Almostgotits aint got much call for fried squirrel in our own Southern household, here’s a coupla good recipes from the book, just in time for the holidays. If you want more recipes than these, though, you’ll have to order your own copy of White Trash: Amazon sells ‘em used, too!
Plain Ol’ Potato Pone
First bake your sweet potatoes, or use some left from supper. Take off the skins and mash them up. To the potatoes, add all other ingredients. Mix well and put in an iron skillet and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Now this is a real pone. Dig in and make yourself at home — if you ain’t, you oughta be. This is another one of Betty Sue’s favorites. (from White Trash Cooking)
Fancy Sweet Potato Pone
Add well beaten eggs, sugar, spices, and nuts to grated sweet potato.
Melt butter in heavy iron frying pan; add potato mixture; Stir all on top of stove until very hot. Cook in same pan in moderate oven for 45 minutes, stirring from bottom several times. Serve with whipped cream.
Raenelle said: ‘This is my recipe but Betty Sue added all the extras, so it’s hard to tell it’s the one I gave her. She’s always changin’ things.’ (also from White Trash Cooking)