More Entries in the Creative Food Writing Contest

Entries to the 2014 food writing contest are still coming in.  If you missed the earlier post, you can see all the contest details here. These are the prizes for the best entry as determined by a reader vote:

 

By Francis - 

My Daddy had the ham curing talent. The odor of ham or side meat (shoulder) frying on a frosty morning or for supper can’t be described. A hunk of cured ham makes dried white or pinto beans an angel’s feast. Biscuits baked from scratch, split open with a generous slice of ham remains a memory nothing can duplicated.

Our family had several boar hogs that visited folks who only had sows (female hogs) or shoats (young pigs). The farmer could pay for the boar’s service, or give Daddy a pig. Many chose to give up a pig for litters might have a dozen piglets.

I asked my brother how he met his wife fifty years ago. She and her grandmother were sitting under a maple tree in the yard snapping green beans when he drove up with an eager boar. Hogs are smart and know to hop in the truck when it is backed up to the pen and will hop out to find the female’s odor.

Returning home my brother found the lovely young woman’s number and phoned. She agreed to a movie and dinner, so to impress her, he drove to Charlotte, North Carolina (60 miles round trip) to find supper and the picture show.

Hog raising and curing hams are big business now, but authentic cured hams can be found neqr Vonore, Tennessee on Highway 411 at Hick’s Ham Farm. The finish restaurants in eastern cities boast of their flavor, but some folks remember the smoke house and the priceless odor of ham frying for supper with cornmeal mush, biscuits, green beans, and iced tea.

 

By Ryan - 

Countless flags have invaded my lola’s land and each, wanting to be the last, instilled their culture – and their tongue – upon the people of the Philippines.

The result is like a gumbo – a boiling pot of ends and pieces, but without one ingredient, the flavor is gone. Each culture has influenced the Philippines, and more importantly, the filipinos. And as many have left their contested land, they bring with them their food, their identity. See, filipinos are resourceful, and never more so than in the kitchen. Thanks to this, I know and love flavor and I abhor recipes – my lola would never write a secret down, lest it be found out.

As a child, my colic-y stomach found me often sitting in my lola’s kitchen. She’d whip me up what I needed to feel better, but also feel full – filipinos love to feel full. As my personal chef, I grew to trust her, unwaveringly.

One day, I sat and colored as steam rose, meat sizzled, and aromas wafted. But on this day, there was a particular and peculiar smile spread across my lola’s face. She smirked as she waved her hands like a magician, wooden spoon in place of a wand.

Once done, a plate of brown meat and a side of rice laid before me. I looked upon it, unimpressed, knowing intuitively something wasn’t right about this ‘steak’. “Eat, eat, Ryan.” she prodded. “Uh, lola, this looks and smells funny…” I tried to contest.

“Don’t you love your lola?” The words hung in the air. Of course I did! But did eating this ‘steak’ prove that? Slowly and deliberately, I cut a small piece, and lifted it to my mouth. My tongue knew immediately it wasn’t steak. Soon, my brain became aware, too. And as I gulped it down, my lola smiled with glee.

“It’s tongue!” were the words that couldn’t wait to escape her lips.

I knew, but said nothing, instead, cutting another piece. Truthfully, I didn’t like it, mostly because I was tricked. But it was that day that I learned that food isn’t just experienced with the olfactory senses, the tastebuds, and the eyes. No, for filipinos it’s often experienced in the heart. They carry with them memories of their own lola’s, cooking furiously and often silently in kitchens.

My lola still cooks, though admittedly not as much as she used to. My father is determined to master her recipes to pass them on to me. As it stands, I have little aptitude for cooking, though love eating. One day, I’ll ask to be taught the technology, as he puts it, but until then, I forever have the memories of generations of filipino cooking. You can enjoy them, too, just find yourself a plate of pancit, you’ll feel what I’m talking about.

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