The Fourth

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I had not yet learned about the date of July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson or the Decoration of Independence. This came later from my teachers at Swainsboro Grammar School. At the first of summer in my early years, I heard my father talk about plans for The Fourth. These were the years when the Proctor family, along with most of the population of Canoochee gathered at the farm home of my Aunt Mae and Uncle Jim Raleigh Brown. Some of the men would have been up all night tending several hogs that had been split down the middle and stretched on the heavy wire frame that covered the deeply dug hole in the ground filled with smoldering logs. The smoky air carried the mouthwatering aroma of the feast ahead. When ready, the ribs were sliced and meat diced into small pieces. (Now called pulled pork). Earlier the hog heads had been boiled in a wash pot until the sweet meat fell from the bones and with other ingredients went into Brunswick stew. The table was soon covered with fresh summer vegetables, salads and desserts. Tubs of iced sweet tea completed the meal. Now that is what you call a barbeque! As with many things, the Canoochee Barbecue passed into memories. However, this was not the end of barbeque being served on the Fourth. Driving through any neighborhood on “The Fourth” you will see smokey air from many back yards. The method of cooking might have changed into a store-bought grill, and the choice of meat could be portions of chops or boneless pork, chicken, beef, turkey or even lamb. The selected meat might differ, but two condiments are still essential---the smoked flavor and the home- made, secret recipe sauce usually of the host. It is unlikely that I will be invited to such a meal as the Canoochee barbecue ever again. Should I want the traditional Fourth meal, I have to compromise and enjoy what is offered. I was surprised when I was served my first beef barbeque. Tasty but not the real thing. My thought was beef should come to the table with mashed potatoes and gravy. Grilled hamburgers are one of my favorites---but still not barbeque. My husband’s choice of a juicy grilled T-bone served with salad and fries could not be called barbecue. My biggest surprise was in Laredo, Texas when served a hunk of goat and sausage of unknown ingredients. To all, I hope the 246th birthday of the greatest country on earth has been fittingly honored by displaying the flag, singing along with “God Bless America” and feasting on real barbeque that is still being made by many in Emanuel County. Write to Shirley at sptwiss@gmail.com.

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