Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Testament to Hospitality

Tonight I had a Mississippi country supper. The impromptu menu consisted of fresh purple hull peas slowly cooked with a piece of salted pork fat, skillet-fried okra, a pone of stovetop fried cornbread and a fresh raw vegetable medley of onions, sweet banana peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. The best aspect of the meal was all the vegetables were harvested fresh out of the garden this morning – but not my garden.

Country folks are sharing folks. Here folks share their agrarian bounty with friends and neighbors. A local farmer had planted some extra rows of okra and invited neighbors to help themselves. Another neighbor brought me some fresh picked tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onions. Last week I had shared with them my bushel of purple hull peas grown on the rich bottomlands of Twenty Mile Creek I had bought from the back of a farmer’s pickup truck in town. This morning while visiting an elderly cousin, she wouldn’t let me leave without portioning me out into a paper sack, a generous mess of fresh peas she had picked earlier in the garden.

Tonight’s supper was truly a garden patch meal and the type of meal most folks of my generation were raised on here in rural Mississippi. The meal was not only a tasty treat, but the generosity behind the ingredients was a testament to down-home hospitality that is still practiced in the beautiful rolling hills of northeastern Mississippi.

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