In the last post in this series, I wrote about beans and dumplings and how this originates as poor people's food that my family continued to eat even as they rose into the middle class.
I e-mailed my mother asking her about favourite foods and family traditions and she echoed this theme when she wrote of her mother, "I’ll gross you out--a favorite of mom’s was pickled pig's feet. Once again poor people’s food." I remember Mammoo eating her pickled pig's feet. And it grossed me out as a kid.
Mammoo grew up in Arkansas, raised by her grandfather. Her parents were divorced. Her mother died in an institution around the age of thirty, and her father had run off and later died on the street in California. Mammoo had been the cook for her grandfather and brother from childhood.
Besides the pinto beans with dumplings and cornbread, the other simple food I fondly remember from growing up was fried chicken gizzards. Not gizzards served as an appetizer or side dish like you might get in a restaurant but gizzards as the main dish.
These gizzards pictured here are ones I had last week when our family went to eat at Quick Bites Soul Food in Bellevue, Nebraska.
When Mom fried gizzards for supper she usually fixed potato salad as the side. Mom's potato salad was mustard based and bright yellow. I love that potato salad and make it all the time in the summer.
In ours the potatoes are smooth like mashed potatoes rather than chunky like in some. And you add some mayonnaise, pickle juice, chopped pickles and scallions, and a dash of paprika.
Dad's favourite dinner was steak and potatoes. What were the many ways we ate potatoes growing up? I could sound a little like Bubba listing them: mashed, scalloped, fried, boiled, hashbrowns, etc.
My aunt Rhonda, whom I affectionately called K-K when I was kid (her middle name was Katherine), once made me some potato soup. Forever after it was K-K soup. Mom always complained that she had made the same soup for years but K-K made it once and forever after it was named for her. BTW, I've got a great potato soup recipe I learned from a church member in Dallas when I served there.
In 2016 Mom, Kelli, and I traveled in the west of Ireland, where the remnants of the potato famine are still visible. On our drive around the Dingle Peninsula we saw once cultivated fields that have lain unused since the famine, as the population of the area has never recovered.