Something To Chew On
August 12-18, 2019
By Becca Bona
My Mom and I stopped by to see my Grandfather the other day.
He’s been reminiscing lately, telling tall tales of times past in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he and my Grandma once lived before my Mom was born.
I love listening to him detail the streets and their events – memories he has of Oaklawn and restaurants. And while Oaklawn is still there, it’s changed as much as the restaurant scene.
I casually mentioned to him that I had plans to head to Paris, Arkansas, for a Brewed in Arkansas assignment and his ears perked up a bit.
“Paris, eh?” he said, his mouth curling upwards in an inkling of a smile. “I was born around those parts, you know. Why are you heading to that neck of the woods?”
“I need to take some pictures at Prestonrose – it’s a brewery located on a farm a little ways out of town,” I told him.
He couldn’t quite believe that.
“They make beer there? On the farm?”
“Yeah, and it’s pretty darn good, too,” I told him.
He proceeded to ask questions about the acreage and if they have any animals on the premises. He also wanted to know what they grew up there, and if it was possible for him to get his hands on some fresh poke salad (or as some know it – poke sallet).
I had forgotten all about this delicacy of the deep south – a survival food predating the Depression, which is toxic but super delicious. Granddad used to bring the plant home when I was younger, and Grammy would boil the leaves and then serve it to us soaked in a mess of bacon grease. We would then have a dessert of fresh pears topped with mayonnaise and shredded cheddar cheese.
These memories came to me with a hint of late summer and the back-to-school season jitters that were only ever made better by hanging out at my grandparent’s house.
(If you haven’t ever tried poke salad – you have to at least once – just be sure you know how to handle the plant – the toxicity of it is no joke.)
I told Granddad I’d keep an eye out for it.
“Did you drive by Delaware on your way to Paris?” he asked, suddenly.
“I don’t think so,” I said trailing off, trying to remember.
My Mom smiled and said, “That’s where Dad is from. When you’re driving though, it’s easy to miss the little town if you blink.”
I resolved to pay better attention on my next trip, and as the boyfriend and I got ready to make the drive, I kept my eyes peeled.
“There it is! “I yelled loudly as we made our way along Highway 22.
“There’s what?” my boyfriend asked me, sounding a little taken aback by my exclamation.
“Delaware – it’s my Grandpa’s hometown,” I said, matter-of-factly.
We counted more than two churches and a few families playing outside in the Arkansas sunshine. I figured they were catching the last of summer’s rays before that inevitable, back-to-school season takes over.
It seemed like a peaceful place to stop and look around for poke salad.
We were late, however, and had to continue our drive. Once we got to Prestonrose and a few pints had been had, I forgot all about poke salad.
I went to see Granddad yesterday and he asked about my trip. I told him I’d seen Delaware, but didn’t have any poke salad to show for it.
He just smiled.
“Next time,” he said, “next time.”