05 January 2022

Brunswick Stew: What Is & What Should Never Be -- The History & Variations of this Tasty Tradition

The impetus behind this post goes back a couple of months ago to a FB group I'm a part of  in which a member shared a picture of their "Brunswick Stew" (see image below). 

I responded to this one along the lines of: "Yeah, that's just what we call stew."


Later, another person shared a picture of their Brunswick Stew..

I responded to this one along the lines of: "Yeah, that's what we call soup..."
 


My goodness. Apparently some of these folks just hate America or something. 

I've been aware of the differences related to this food item for several years & I've been familiar with a good bit of the history & backstory related to it but realized that perhaps a good number of folks aren't, so I decided to do a post about it here as my first one in the new era of TPC. 

Before we go any further, here's a pic of some proper Brunswick Stew (at least as it's considered in the GA Piedmont), compliments of Josh & Faith Henderson: 

Obviously these are some good God-fearin' Folk (and their stew is one of the best I've ever had)



Notice how everything has been properly ground up; there aren't any intact pieces of potato. There aren't any beans of any sort of any size & there sure as hell ain't NO peas! The key is that you can tell it's thick. The old saying about Brunswick Stew, at least the way I was raised, is the paddle, stick or large spoon you're using should be able to stick up straight in the concoction if you've done it right. 

As we'll see in just a bit, there are multiple variations of Brunswick Stew. A lot of these differences relate to where the stew has originated from. Furthermore, there are many questions as to the true origins of this dish. 

### 

Some History on Brunswick Stew 

The two main claimants are Brunswick Co., Virginia & the City of Brunswick, GA. 

While there is a monument in the Brunswick, GA area that lays claim to the area originating this dish & while many in Georgia feel that their version is the most authentic, based on historical records, it's clear that the Virginia variation was the one first recorded in the annals of American history, going all the way back to the early 1800s.

But was that truly the first Brunswick Stew? 

There is documentation that Native Americans had a dish that resembled it well before. Like the aforementioned ones, this pot stew originally used small wild game such as rabbits, squirrels & possums, and that's why it had to simmer so long as to soften the natural toughness of those meats. However, there is evidence that perhaps a version of this dish goes back to the old country as well with the Duchy of Brunswick-Luneburg (located in the northern section of modern-day Germany). Certainly, the name seems to possibly confirm this hypothesis, but really - who knows? 

Regardless of who was first, it can be agreed that the keys to this meal are as follows: 

- some type of meat(s)
- tomatoes
- potatoes 
- corn 
- a long, slow cooking time

Now, depending on the location, there will be more ingredients & that's the key to this whole thing - the location. 

We'll start with the two main American styles, then branch out to the others, but then we also have to appreciate the sub-variations therein. 

Virginia Style 

First off, the traditional VA recipe calls for NO grinding of anything (yeah, weird, I know). Furthermore, it only calls for chicken (crazy, right?). In addition to tomatoes, potatoes & corn, these people also put in butter beans (they obviously hate God). Finally, it has much more liquid that just about any other type, it's basically a soup. 

Brunwick, GA (GA Coastal) Style

It's funny to me that the Brunswick/St. Simon's/GA Coast folks have worked so hard to try to lay claim to being the originators of Brunswick Stew considering how second-rate & unimpressive theirs is. Similar to the Virginia edition, they put Lima beans in theirs & they also don't grind anything! The one thing you can give these poor bastards is the fact that their rendition is much less soupier than VA's, and the fact that they do add pork. 

North Carolina Style 

Oh yes, NC has their take on this thing & they actually think they've got the best one out there! Theirs is extremely weird, folks. They do add pork, so we'll give 'em points for that but they don't add potatoes. Like the coastal Georgia style, they have much less liquid, but somehow theirs comes out very chunky. Again, it's just really strange. 

GA Mountain Style 

Apparently an amalgamation of Virginia & North Carolina traditions, but then with their own strange bent. I remember as a 12-yr kid ordering some in Cornelia, GA & thinking to myself -- "this ain't Brunswick Stew!" 

And now we finally get to the 
pièce de ré·sis·tance

GA Piedmont Style

And to take a quick moment for Yours Truly, this is what took me so long to do this piece. I really had to research this thing. And as far as I can tell, there is a difference in Brunswick Stew between the mountains & the fall line -- our glorious home, the Georgia Piedmont. 

One thing you can do to confirm my theory is to look up Brunswick Stew recipes on the internets. Seriously, do it. 

If you live in C-town, Monroe, or Athens, or in & around Atlanta, or even Macon or Augusta, or Commerce or Comer, Villa Rica, Zebulon or Sparta, you will find most of these recipes to be odd & foreign, unlike anything you've ever experienced when it comes to this awe-inspiring dish. In fact, I only found one recipe from the traditional recipe sites that came close to what we all know & love here in our lovely neck of the woods, and that was Trisha Yearwood's recipe that is actually her Daddy's. Makes sense, considering she's a Monticello gal & all... 

So, let's talk about REAL Brunswick Stew, which shall now henceforth be referred to as Georgia Piedmont Style

Three meats. Beef, Chicken & Pork. 
Tomatoes.
Potatoes. 
Onions.
Corn. 

Grind EVERYTHING (except, usually, the corn, but I've had versions where the corn was ground too & I think it might even be better!). 

The first few months I worked at Bess's Place in the late 90s Andy Wilson was still making Brunswick Stew & I got to witness the magic first hand. It was glorious. It's similar to most other recipes that I've been made aware of in & around our beautiful, magical area. 

Lovejoy Methodist, Red Oak Methodist & multiple other churches do amazing versions every fall. 

A fella named Richard L.Veneable makes one that would literally make you slap your mama. 

The aforementioned one from the Hendersons is as good as any I've ever had. 

Most BBQ restaurants around these parts have great ones as well. I'd have to give the nod to Jack's BBQ for the best non-church-or-private-party one around the home city & county in my humble estimation. 

When it comes to the GA Piedmont region & Brunswick Stew, in the words of Tina Turner -- we're simply the best. 

*****

So, that's my write-up on Brunswick Stew. Hope you enjoyed it. 

- Marshall McCart 

28 December 2021

TPC Album Review: Robert Plant | Alison Krauss -- "Raise the Roof"

 Friends, the Missus gifted me the latest recording from Krauss & Plant for Christmas & I'm so glad & grateful she did. 

2007's Raising Sand by the duo was obviously a transformative  American musical experience in that it took the world by storm & netted multiple GRAMMYs for the two as well as others (remember: Jimmy Page got one as well for co-writing "Please Read the Letter"). 

What made their album from 14 yrs ago so amazing was...basically everything. Krauss & Plant's otherworldly vocal harmonies, T-Bone Burnett's production prowess, the backing band's genius (Buddy Miller in particular), etc. 

I'll be honest. I actually had a bit of trepidation leading up to my first listening of Raise the Roof. Surely it couldn't match their previous effort. 

Well, I'm here to tell you this, folks.  

It does. 



Rounder Records



The opening track is an interesting one. At first, I wasn't so sure, but as I hit about 30 seconds in, I was totally hooked. 

Track # 2, a take on the  Everly Brothers' "The Price Of Love," is such a keeper. Perhaps the best track
on the album. Song choice? Perfect. Musicality? Perfect. Vocals? Perfect. 

Ditto for "Go Your Way." 

By the time you get to Allen Toussaint's "Trouble With My Lover" & you hear those soul-stirring vocals from Krauss, it's almost as if you just can't stand it no more; but then, after almost two minutes when Plant finally comes in? Well, it's really a musical Manic Nirvana, so to speak

Next on the playlist is an old, perhaps overlooked one by Bobby Moore from back in the mid 60s & is - once again - maybe the best one on the entire recording. 

"Can't Let Go" could've easily been on the 2007 record. It is exceptional. 

~~~ 

Like the previous work, the musicianship on Raise the Roof is remarkable. The aforementioned Buddy Miller makes a few appearances, but it's 2007's  lesser-utilized talent , avant-garde, free-jazz guitarist Marc Ribot, that really shines this go 'round.

And finally, the rhythm section of Jay Bellerose on drums & Dennis Crouch on bass is the really the key - the glue, as it were - to this offering. 

The rest of the album keeps up the pace & the penultimate Merle Haggard tune is simply awe-inspiring. 

Easily one of the best recordings I've encountered in the last several years. 

Highly, highly Rec'd, my friends. 

- MBM 

### 

ROBERT PLANT | ALISON KRAUSS 
Raise the Roof 
Produced by T Bone Burnett
ROUNDER Records
Copyright 2021
Distributed by Concord

23 December 2021

Merry Christmas From TPC

 *Ed. note: well, gang, I lied again. With the change of format I promised that TPC would average at least one post a week. That hasn't happened, YET, but in the words of Ray Goff: we're gonna work hard to get better! Seriously, we will. In the meantime, here are some past Christmas write-ups from Yours Truly & others that have graced these pages. Hope you enjoy & hope you all have a very Merry Christmas --MBM


Glory to God in the Highest Heaven and on earth Peace to those on whom His Favor rests


A Good Christmas, Indeed 

A Christmas Novella by Marshall McCart 

A Christmas Tradition 

A Christmas short story by Perrin Lovett 

Remember Christmas Trees Past 

From Bess Tuggle's Memoirs of Surviving Children 



And a very special Christmas write-up I did several years ago in a different publication: 


Christmas Time’s A Comin’
~from the December 2009 issue of About Covington to Madison~


Hey everyone. So glad to be back with you again. Wow, December already! It’s hard to believe. Time really does seem to speed up as we get older. But the Holidays are upon us once again and that makes me very happy. Christmas…man, it just doesn’t get much better. A celebration of faith, love, and fellowship—it’s obviously a very special time of the year.

What is Christmas exactly? That answer can be as varied as the people you ask. For a lot of us, Christmas is a celebration of the Lord Savior Jesus Christ as we remember his entrance to our earthly world. But Christmas is also simply about love. Love of our fellow man. Love of our families and friends. And love of the things we hold most dear. While Thanksgiving is certainly about giving thanks, Christmas, for me, is just as much about gratitude. It is also about the spirit of giving. But what about the history of Christmas?


The roots of Christmas go back to the Romans. They had a festival called Saturnalia that celebrated Saturn, the god of agriculture, marking the end of the fall harvest and honoring the winter solstice. During the heyday of Rome , this was the festival and was considered the most important time of the year. Other cultures and other peoples in other parts of the old continent also had celebrations around this time of the year. In the early years of Christianity, church leaders were looking for ways to help spread the Good Word, so in the 4th century A.D., they adopted the time of Saturnalia as the “Feast of the Nativity.” Within a couple of centuries, it had stuck and December 25 to this day remains the celebration of Christmas.


For many of us, Christmas always brings back memories of being young and anxiously awaiting Santa. The origins of Santa Claus are as interesting as the origins of Christmas itself. It starts with St. Nicholas, a monk born in the 3rd century who gave away all of his wealth to help the poor and sick. He was known as “Sinter Klass” by the Dutch and this would turn into Santa Claus by the 18th century. The image of Santa that most of us have with his red suit, large belly, and white beard can be traced back to the drawings of Thomas Nast in the 19th century and further reinforced with ads from the Coca-Cola Co. in the 1930’s.


There are many wonderful Christmas stories throughout the annals of history but perhaps there is none better than the story of the WWI Christmas truce. In 1914, on the fields of Flanders  German and British troops were squared off in their trenches fighting a terrible war. Then on Christmas Eve, German troops lit candles and started singing Christmas carols. The British followed suit and in no time, a truce had been called and the fighting stopped. Germans and Brits exchanged gifts, spent time together, and even played soccer. This phenomenon occurred in several other places along the battle lines and in some cases lasted all the way until New Year’s Eve. To me, that is a story that truly captures the Christmas spirit.

One of the key aspects of Christmas also has to be the music! There are so many wonderful Christmas songs. “Silent Night” is probably one of the better known and ingrained of all Christmas songs; it was written in the early 1800’s by a couple of Austrians. Originally written in German, it was later translated to English with a slightly different melody and that version is the one we know today. “White Christmas” has been ranked as the number one Christmas song of all time by several groups and publications. Written by Irving Berlin, the original recording was done by Bing Crosby. Speaking of Bing Crosby, if you want a real treat—search Youtube with the key words: Bing Crosby, David Bowie, and Little Drummer Boy. You will find a magnificent version of that song by two of the greatest artists of the 20th century. The title of this column is a new favorite of mine. I had never heard this song until I played it a while back with the Biggers Family Band—a country, bluegrass-gospel band that I play with from time to time with my wife and her family. But probably my all-time favorite Christmas song has got to be—“Come Home for Christmas” also known as “Bells Will Be Ringing.” Released by the Eagles as a Christmas single in 1978, it is such a great tune.

As I write this column, the calendar still reads November but I am starting to feel an almost child-like excitement for Christmas that I haven’t felt in years. It will be the first Christmas for my little baby girl and I am so very excited. From my family to yours—Merry Christmas &  Happy New Year.

07 December 2021

Ellis Millsaps: How I Spent My Summer Vacation, (Part One?)

  I spent a lot of time on my porch this summer watching hummingbirds and squirrels. Of the many squirrels I've seen in my section of Porterdale, only once have I seen one on the ground. Squirrels here travel by tree, rooftop and to a great extent by utility line. We have some really thick electrical lines on West Palmetto, I assume because when installed they were furnishing power to a huge mill on the river, the one up river from the one that is now The Lofts and equally as large.


 The last of the hummingbirds left for Costa Rica in late October. Now it's just me and the squirrels.


 As noted in a prior post, I spent most of my indoor summer hours reading. I started this reading binge in New Orleans while staying in my daughter's in-laws’ empty for the summer house. I looked at their book collection and discovered The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, a writer with whom I was familiar. In my semi-educated opinion Whitehead along with Donna Tartt are the best American novelists at work today.


 The Nickel Boys won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2019. It is not a fun read. It will leave you unsettled. It's based on an incident I remember from the news in 2014. After years of complaints about abuse at The Dozier (reform) School For Boys,  South Florida University students at the behest of the state discovered over a hundred (the number is still growing) unmarked graves around the school’s official graveyard. These were the graves of boys who over the years were reported to have escaped the facility. In fact they were each beaten to death. Whitehead gives the story through fictional characters but spares no detail of the gruesome and well-researched factual account. I highly recommend this book.


 Over the rest of the summer I read fifteen more books. I rated them for myself on a scale of one to five ranging from a low of Fahrenheit 451 at 3.0 to three books I gave the full five. Some of these  books were really long. War and Peace, Anna Karenina and The Magic Mountain are over 4000 pages all together. My three books rated five were The Nickel Boys, The Secret Commonwealth by Phillip Pullman, the second in a proposed fantasy trilogy which like his earlier prequel trilogy rivals Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and the only non-fiction book on my list, The Body by Bill Bryson. If you've read any Bill Bryson you know that he is a widely self-educated man. He has no medical training that I know of but this work is erudite and fascinating,  It contains interesting tidbits such as the fact that all of the penicillin in the world came from the mold on one cantaloupe in Peoria, Illinois discovered during WWII, and that ,in spite of what we’ve always been told, hair and fingernails do not grow after we're dead. Look it up.


 I've continued this reading frenzy in the fall and I am now up to twelve more  lengthy volumes finished. Maybe I'll talk about them next time or maybe I'll talk about something else. Till then, TTFN. 


Contributing Writer & Editor Emeritus of The Piedmont Chronicles





Ellis "Da" Millsaps is a recovering Attorney but has worn many hats over the years: father, bus boy, stand-up comedian, novelist, wiffle ball player, rock'n'roll band manager, and at one time wrote a popular and funny column for The Covington News. A Fannin Co. mountain boy originally, Mr. Millsaps now stays at the mill village of Porterdale by way of 20 years in Mansfield. Usually funny and at times irreverent and subversive, he leans left in his political philosophy but can always be counted on for a pretty darn good write-up. The Chronicles are proud to have him involved... 






http://www.thepiedmontchronicles.com/p/good-cop-bad-cop-novel-by-ellis-millsaps.html

21 November 2021

A Moment From The Editor -- TPC: Going Back To Its Roots

 By MB McCart, Editor 

Greetings, friends, and as always -- it's so good to be back w/ you. 

Well, I've been doing a lot of thinking about a lot of things. Something always on the forefront of my mind is this space right here -- The Piedmont Chronicles. 

Thoughts have been had about the long-term direction of this site & I've decided to pull a trigger of sorts. 

I've decided to go back to the TPC prior to 2015. 

It was 2015 when the vision of what TPC was changed to include current events, and more specifically, local politics (as well as state & national politics for that matter). The content volume also ramped up considerably hitting a peak in 2018 - 2020. With massive pageviews that continue to surprise & amaze me, the journey has been quite something over the last six years (and the entire 11-yr history of the page). 

However, amongst all of that during the entire duration, I've always had pangs & feelings that I was missing something, and that the true essence of TPC was still not being realized. 

A few months ago & I realized the time had come. 

### 

The Piedmont Chronicles, as the title of this piece mentioned, is going back to its roots w/ a concentration on local history, events & people. In addition, rather than hitting the local REAL Politick, the site will now also concentrate on the overarching theme of The Esoteric South in addition to true human interest stuff & even...Philosophy!, particularly, the discipline of Stoicism. And we will also even be addressing Culture! 

How ya' like them apples? 

P.S. Though we're going back to our roots, it will not be the same in terms of the output of those first few years. I assure you TPC will average at least a post a week. 

*****

But what of the politics? I can hear some of you saying. 

Fear not, fearless readers, I'm on the Mutha

As of a few days ago I've set up a Substack account. This is the platform that most legitimate & non-sell-out writers have been migrating to for the last couple of years. 

For one thing, it takes Big Tech out of the picture, especially the two worst offenders - Facebook & Twitter. 

It's a subscription model that includes direct email delivery. While some writers charge a subscription fee, they still offer a good bit of their content for free. At the moment, I'm not charging any subscription fee. In the future, I might very well do that, but like most Substackers, I will be offering a good deal of my content for all subscribers - paying or non. 

Without any further ado, here it is:

MB's Word on the Street 

Another really cool thing about Substack is that it allows for me to do podcasts, which I will be doing in the near future, as well as the ability for folks to listen to articles in addition to reading them. It's pretty darned cool. 

Folks, I'm pumped... 

As of press time for this piece, I'm already at a few dozen subscribers after a social media post from a few days ago. Very much hoping that number will grow very soon. 

Very Kindly Yours, 

Marshall "MB" McCart 






15 November 2021

TPC Real Politick: Not So Fast on the VETO; Advocating for THC; Memo to Ezell on the First Rule of Holes; Embrace the Chaos?

By: MB McCart, Editor  


The Home County




In re the County Manager situation, apparently Marcello can use his veto power to deny the vote that a majority of the BOC - Mason (2nd district), Sanders (3rd) & Henderson (4th) - approved to not renew Kerr's contract as manager but purportedly, per state law, a political subdivision has to have a majority (which is veto-proof) vote in order to offer an employment contract to anyone, specifically in this case - Loyd Kerr as county manager. Therefore, the point appears to be moot unless one of the aforementioned Commissioners changes their mind (not likely). 

I remember when they first made the changes to the charter several years back that there were some situations where a veto was not possible or was not permitted. This appears to be one of those instances. Honestly, I'd have figured that the (other) Team MB (Team Marcello) would've had their ducks in a row on that, but, apparently no, not really, because, reality, and history. 

Not surprising...

As a politico perhaps somewhat on a lonely island, my position may be different than most & certainly your mileage will likely vary but basically I'm all here for it. It? Whatever. Anything. Everything. 

No, at this point, I think I'm basically a supporter of chaos. Full-on. In Toto. 

I have no allegiances to anything, or anybody. I'm not Team Marcello; I'm not Team JC; I'm not Team Anyone. I'm Team Home County (THC). Unfortunately, THC doesn't have hardly any advocates right now; THC needs to be embraced by its citizens, to be fully...inhaled, metaphorically speaking, if you will. That the essence of THC needs to fully permeate amongst us all.

But...that's likely not going to happen anytime soon & that's just too bad. 

Stop Diggin' 

So Ezell decides to talk to the other local press the other day & pretty much makes the case for him have having indeed violated the U.S. civil rights of that Georgia Guardian fella, an American citizen. 

I was wondering why Tommy Craig was riding a unicycle yesterday on College Ave while juggling five bowling pins. Also, he was wearing a funny looking hat. 

Strange times, indeed. Until next time, friends. 

Best, 

MBM 


09 November 2021

Newton Co. Sheriff Ezell Brown Spectacularly Fails His "1st Amendment Audit"; Lawsuit Likely

 A civil liberty advocacy group & police watchdog, the Georgia Guardian, did a 1st Amendment Audit of the Newton County Sheriff's Office (see below). 


They actually arrested this guy for exercising his constitutional rights (though the Newton DA did later drop the charges.)

So...Ezell spectacularly failed his 1st Amendment Audit.
Another lawsuit for the NCSO.
I was wondering why Tommy Craig was doing somersaults there at the corner of College & Elm the other day. That’ll be a LOT of billable hours for the ole fella.

In addition, Abiyah Israel, a former law enforcement officer & now CEO of We The People University, also reported on this egregious violation on his YouTube channel which as of this time has garnered over 25K views as of this reporting. 


Here's Israel's synopsis: 

Guess What The Sheriff Did. Crazy Old Sheriff Becomes Brave When His Goons Arrive! 1A Audit Gone Bad Attacked By Overly Aggressive Sheriff For Filming. A lawsuit has been filed by this auditor. Newton County sheriff has proven not even he does not fully know and understand the law he has sworn to protect!

Here's his video: 



Just when you think the NCSO can't sink any lower, they pull a stunt like this. 

- MBM