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What is stone stew?

  • Tuesday, April 15, 2014



I love to eat. I love food.

And sometimes given my enthusiastic love of food, I leap before I look when it comes to what I put in my mouth.

It’s been said that I often dive headfirst into Life’s Deep End without first looking to see if there’s any water there.

I’m that way often with food.

That said, there are certain foods out there that I’d just as soon not touch.

Take liver.

Please.

I can’t think of anything more vile than eating a solid waste processing organ.

As a child my parents tried to sneak liver onto my plate and tell me it was steak. I was 10 years old.

I said, “This is awful. Is it liver?”

My Dad looked me dead straight in the eye and lied to me.

“Naw, that’s steak.”

I love steak. This wasn’t steak. And I told him so.

“If this ain’t liver, it sure tastes like liver and I don’t care what part of the cow this came from, there’s no way this is steak.”

I hail from the Midwest plains.

While I love all International cuisine, I like to keep my fare standard. These shows on the Food Network and Travel Channel where they take you to different parts of the world and eat the local cuisine? No thank you.

I don’t care to eat fried Guinea pig. Neither do I care to dine on a tiger’s broiled private parts.

And I will not touch a Lamb fry.

I have embraced Southern cuisine.

If it ain’t sweet, it ain’t tea.

I have relented after holding out these many years and tried some boiled peanuts, even though my recipe for boiled peanuts include “Take a handful of dry roasted peanuts. Pop them in your mouth for an hour or so. Now spit into your neighbor’s hand. Enjoy.”

Perusing the meat counter at The Pig, appropriately in the pork section, I come across what looked like a two hands full of fingers. They were pigtails.

Who cooks with this stuff?

My answers have been numerous, starting with, “Everybody does.”

Nothing better than a good pig’s knuckle, I’m told.

Apparently my reluctance to try epidermis, pig digit or anything swine sub-lumbardial is turning my back on my rural Southern roots.

Not anymore.

When ordering from the counter the other day at a rural Lowcountry eatery, because I couldn’t understand the server when he said what kind of stew they served over rice, I just assumed it was beef stew and said, “Give me some of that.”

My first warning should have come when he said, “You sure?”

Not wishing to offend I said, “Sure. I want some of that stuff; load me up. I’m hungry.”

Remember what I said about leaping before I look?

It’s called Stone Stew. The “stones” are actually sub-lumbardial swine vertebrae with a little marrow thrown in for flavor.

Pigtails.

That’s the main ingredient in Stone Stew.

A few vertebrae, some marrow, and strips of skin, all boiled up nice and soft and poured over rice. A pall of silence fell over the dining room as I took my first forkful.

I am as Gomer as they come.

“Be sure to get that soft part inside, it’s really good,” the owner said.

When I got home I Googled Stone Stew and the first entry said, “Yes, you big dummy you just ate pigtails.”

Swine spine.

So scratch one more off my Culinary Bucket List.

I just dined on the southern most part of the pig heading north.

On my Culinary Bucket List, my pigtail has been scratched.

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