Friday, August 22, 2008

It's Brunswick Stew, But Brunswick Where?

I had always assumed that Brunswick, Ga., was the city in which Brunswick Stew originated. But I was listening last night to a radio program called The Splendid Table. The host stated that there is a Brunswick County in Virginia that also claims to be the birthplace for this dish.

This was news to me.

The debate is likely to continue. In the meantime, I will pass along this recipe for Brunswick stew (not my own). And, for what it's worth, here are a few tidbits about Brunswick Stew. This excerpt is from the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

Brunswick, Georgia, claims to be the place of origin for Brunswick stew. A twenty-five-gallon iron pot outside that coastal town bears a plaque declaring it to be the vessel in which this favorite southern food was first cooked in 1898.

In truth, the one-pot meal is credited to a number of places with Brunswick in their names, but the honor (so far as the name is concerned) must go to Brunswick County, Virginia. There, according to an entrenched local tradition supported by a 1988 Virginia General Assembly proclamation, Jimmy Matthews, an African American hunting-camp cook, concocted a squirrel stew for his master, Creed Haskins, in 1828, the stew being named for its home county.

Stews that combine meat and grain probably originated with ancient agriculturalists, in both the Old and New Worlds.

. . . Brunswick stew belongs to a family of southern stews, its closest relative perhaps being Kentucky burgoo.

. . . Wild game like squirrel or rabbit (that once was common in Brunswick stew) is now often replaced by chicken, pork, or beef (sometimes in combination). Virtually any vegetable and seasoning can be added to the requisite meat, corn, and tomatoes, but onions, lima beans, and potatoes commonly make an appearance.

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