If Cooter Pie, Baked Possum and Corn Poe sounds like good eatin' to you, then you best check out this cookbook.
An ode to down home Southern cooking, Ernest M. Mickler's "White Trash Cooking" is being released as an e-book. First published in 1986, the compilation is now being re-released to cater to the more technologically advanced section of the backwoods population.
We've compiled some of the recipes that are most emblematic of the white trash oeuvre.
|Aunt Donnah's Roast Possum|
For this recipe, you need one onion, one tablespoon of fat, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs ... and don't forget the possum! Mickler writes: "There's only one thing to serve possum with -- sweet potatoes. You only eat possum in the winter." Of course.
"There's white trash then there's White Trash. Common white trash has very little in the way of pride. ... Where I come from in North Florida you never failed to say 'yes ma'm' or 'no sir.'" ("White Trash Cooking")
According to Mickler, "squirrel is one of the finest and tenderest of all wild game." Its flavor is mild and not as gamey as one may expect. To turn these mammals into a meal, just skin, clean, and broil for 40 minutes. Serve with drippings from the squirrel and season with 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
"You all know, and we won't let anyone forget it, that the South is legend on top of legend on top of legend." ("White Trash Cooking")
|Cooter Pie (The Hunter's Delight)|
The process of catching the cooter, or snapping turtle, seems more exciting than actually cooking it. "First you take a live cooter and wait for him to stick his head out from under his shell. When he does, you grab it and whack it off." Poor little cooter.
"We might tell stories that others think are vulgar or sad but we make them tales to entertain ourselves and anyone else who will listen." ("White Trash Cooking")
|Betty Sue's Sister-in-Law's Fried Eggplant|
Mickler seemed to have a penchant for frying anything. This recipe calls for a peeled eggplant to be dipped in egg and milk, dredged in cracker meal and fried. Each eggplant can feed 3 to 4 people. If there's no cracker meal (which there probably won't be) you can use corn meal or flour.
"Listen to the songs and stories of Jimmy Rodgers, Mother Maybelle Carter, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton. They all tell us, in their own White Trash ways, that our good times are the best, our bad times the worst, our tragedies the most extraordinary, our characters the strongest and the weakest, and our humblest meals the most delicious." ("White Trash Cooking")
|Crepes a la Creola le Beau|
This recipe features a not oft-mixed combination: cream of mushroom soup, collard greens, mayonnaise and crepes. But if you don't have crepes, flour tortillas are the preferred substitute. Cook the soup and mayonnaise, add the collards to the "crepes" and pour the sauce over.
"Cooking food, laughing and storytelling- that's what we're made of and that's what we enjoy the most." ("White Trash Cooking")
|Cold Collard Sandwich|
Collards are a staple of the Southern cooking canon. This collard concoction pairs ice-cold leftover collards, light bread and a generous helping of Blue Plate mayonnaise. Add some pepper vinegar and this "southern delicacy" is ready to eat. Mayonnaise and this leafy green may sound odd but, according to Mickler, there are seldom any greens left.
"If you live in the South or have visited there lately, you know that the old White Trash tradition of cooking is still very much alive, especially in the country." ("White Trash Cooking")
|Liver-Hater's Chicken Livers|
This recipe guarantees that even the most passionate of liver-haters will appreciate these livers -- maybe because, in addition to the livers, green onions, parsley, and seasoning, this recipe adds one cup of sherry. Start by cutting the liver into small pieces then let those pieces soak in sherry for 30 minutes. Roll them around in cracker meal and set those babies to frying! Once they are nice and brown, add onions and parsley, then simmer in sherry for another 15 minutes.
"Another real common feature of White Trash cooking that sticks out in my mind is that the recipes, because of their deliciousness, are swapped and passed around like a good piece of juicy gossip, and by the time they make it back to their source the might be, and almost always are, completely different." ("White Trash Cooking")
|Butt's Gator Tail|
Mickler says that these reptiles are rare and only a few are "lucky enough to get a holt on it." These gators are more succulent than you may imagine. "If you haven't eaten gator before you're in for a surprise. It's gonna taste a little bit like chicken, a little bit like pork, and a little bit like fish. It's so good, you'll wanna lay down and scream."
"It's not hard to catch on to our ways. Even an awful cook will soon sop them up and become deathly accurate with the sweet potato pones and Miss Bill's Bucket Dumplins? How? No hard fast rules." ("White Trash Cooking")
|Pore Folk Soup|
This is perhaps the simplest recipe in the book. Just crumble up soda crackers and put them in a bowl of warm milk. This recipe comes with a chant:
"Hooka tooka my soda crackers? Does yer Mammy chaw tobacco? If yer Mammy chaw tobacco then Then Hooka tooka my soda cracker?" ("White Trash Cooking)
|Mama Leila's Hand-Me-Down Oven Baked Possum|
We'll end with another possum recipe just because, honestly, how often do you see possum recipes? Mickler gives us another detailed description of how to catch the wily beast:
"After you kill the possum be careful not to let him get away. While you're talking and planning how you going to eat him, he's going to be slipping right from under your nose. All he was doing is playing possum."
"We'll tell any story to make it funny. And we'll bend over backwards to make a good meal; from cooking cooter [turtle] in its shell to making Vickie's Stickies to putting up blackberry acid in jars [hoping it'll ferment]." ("White Trash Cooking")