Where I grew up life was centered around “making do.” You never threw anything away.
Your mother could make clothes out of flower sacks and sofa cushions from seed sacks. Crocker sacks were used for many things, and you patched them up when they became battered and kept on using them.
How in Hades could a farmer have survived without haywire? You could mend and “fix” anything with a roll of haywire and a pair of pliers. Clothes were handed down.
Kill a hog and save everything but the squeal. However, I never took to chitterlings or “chitlin’s.” Souse meat. You could give that to the neighbors if you like. I would go hungry before I would eat that.
Pickled pig’s feet. Some people actually enjoyed those! Yep, but I not only would not eat pickled pig’s feet, but you would also have to hold a gun on me to watch someone eat one.
When I walked into a general store which had everything from pickled pig’s feet to mule collars to ten penny nails, to Coca-Colas and a head of cabbage, I could not bring myself to fix my eyes on that big jar of “PPF” sitting blatantly on the counter by the cash register.
I didn’t like squirrel, opossum and rabbit. Dove and quail cooked slowly in a big pot was just right, however. Let it simmer slowly for hours. I couldn’t get enough of fried quail. It deserved the same rank as your grandmother’s fried chicken.
Fruits and vegetables were simply never to be taken for granted. We had green apples, plums, pears, and pecans. My maternal grandmother had a pomegranate tree in her back yard, and I enjoyed its contents, but getting the fruit out of a pomegranate was almost like being sentenced to hard labor.
Something that should have been easy for us to plant and grow would have been pumpkins. We seldom saw pumpkins; we never raised them and knew very little about them.
We read about jack ‘o lanterns in magazines, but nobody grew a pumpkin for decorative purposes. Nobody made pumpkin pie and you probably would have been derided laughingly if you suggested that you were interested in a bowl of pumpkin soup.
Now, I happen to have become an aficionado of pumpkin soup although I have not had any such soup lately. And where, you might ask, did I learn about pumpkin soup?
Down in the Caribbean in one of the greatest places there is—Montego Bay. What a garden spot, what an atmosphere. When we first started going there, we spied pumpkin soup on the menu.
Expecting it to be sweet, we ordered it for lunch on our first day of arrival and were smitten immediately. So smitten, in fact, that on an eight-day trip, we ordered pumpkin soup every day of our sojourn, along with “Red Stripe” beer.
“Red Stripe” beer gets its name from the national police who wore navy blue pants with a red stripe which ran the length of the trousers from the waist to the foot.
If you had an interest in doing something naughty, the Jamaican’s would say, “Be careful ‘mon,’ or the Red Stripe will get you.”
If you want a Red Stripe beer, you probably can find it at your favorite package store, but I discovered that Red Stripe does not taste as good stateside as it does in the Caribbean. It probably would if there was any pumpkin soup available.
An Internet search confirms that pumpkin soup is common in the U. S. at Thanksgiving. With about six weeks left before the Thanksgiving holiday, there is plenty of time to find someone who makes pumpkin soup. There should be a good recipe out there somewhere.
A bowl of pumpkin soup and a bottle of Red Stripe beer to be followed by a nap with visions of the azure Caribbean slapping ashore at the Casa Blanca Hotel in Montego Bay, ushering me into a peaceful rest would make my holidays.