ELLOREE — In the fast-pace mania of uncommon foods featured on TV shows, consider that the real experience sometimes can be found in your own community.
Care for some armadillo?
Many of the bravest of adventurous eaters and hunters will shy away from armadillo.This “possum on the half-shell” (also known as “Hoover Hogs” during the Depression) has a bad reputation, and, if not handled properly, some of the taste concerns are valid. With a reputable field dresser, it is an easy meat to cook with good results. Armadillo meat can be ground for meatballs, fried like a country steak with gravy or done like a roast. The preferred method is to follow any pork shoulder or Boston butt recipe that calls for thorough cooking. Traditional pepper-vinegar or mustard-based marinades and sauces are suggested. — Compiled by Philip D. Bardin
Wild game cookouts are certainly no secret, but there are very few that are open to everyone for a “donation only” price.
For years, First Baptist Church in Elloree has hosted a wild game supper seemingly designed for the greatest of foodies, but mysteriously, even the locals mention little about it.
A short drive from the acclaimed and tony restaurants in Charleston, this small, fringe Lowcountry town cooks up a once-a-year mecca of all-natural, hunter-gatherer fare.
While you may not get that glass of cabernet, one can sample foods banned and/or illegal to serve in marquee culinary temples.
“Faitsie” Bair is the co-coordinating chef within a league of masterful hunters and fishing experts. Upon the most recent offerings of the Saturday before Easter event were alligator chili, armadillo, beaver, brim, lake catfish, duck, possum, raccoon and squirrel, and an abundance of the compulsory wild quail, turkey, venison and so forth.
None of the dishes disappointed, and with a guy in charge named “Faitsie,” how could you go wrong? Bair came through with a slice of heaven for Atkins diet followers.
A memorable visit and chat were available with the guest speaker, New York Yankees star and Sumter native Bobby Richardson. Aside from being known for brilliant plays with his friend, Tony Kubek, and as an MVP winner of a World Series, he is an avid fisherman and hunter.
Impressively, the game, although mostly well-simmered, was devoid of heavy seasonings, and the flavors came through brilliantly.
This event evoked memories of the legendary black walnut-fed squirrel and dumplings at a secret location near Greer, possibly one of the finest dishes ever to be experienced. To those gentlemen in Greer, you have friendly competition in Elloree and not to be seen on TV.
Philip Bardin is the former chef and founder of the Old Post Office Restaurant on Edisto Island. He is also a freelance journalist.