Matt Lee and Josephine Humphreys are fellow Charleston food history nerds. Lee says Humphreys, a native Charlestonian and novelist, and her gentleman-farmer husband Tom Hutcheson have been important figures for him and his brother Ted.
"Josephine and the Lee Brothers have been colleagues and instigators for a long time, going back to the 80s,” says Lee. "We’re always trading Charleston food history stories, and her husband is our foremost farming mentor and muse. He’s been farming since the ’90s on John’s Island. There are lots of photographs of his place in our cookbooks — the scuppernong vineyard, the asparagus patch, foraging in the woods; our most formative food moments have taken place out there.”
Lee and Humphreys are teaming up for a night of storytelling on Thursday, March 8 to benefit the Confederate Home & College on Broad Street.
Humphreys will be talking about her mother’s possum pie, which is a story worth hearing. Her mother and her mother’s cousin Martha Walker were the young Junior Leaguers who created the precursor to the famous Charleston Receipts. Called Charleston Recipes, the book had a red cover and recipes mostly from the Humphreys and Walker families. In their cookbook The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen, the Lees write: "Both Josephine Humphreys and Vereen Coen suspect that this early iteration of the book became successful quickly enough that it attracted the attention of the older sustaining members of the League, who took over the project from the Humphreys-Walker duo, bulked up the project and professionalized it to a degree."
Humphreys' possum recipe included in that first book was eventually lifted wholesale and reprinted in the equally famous cookbook called White Trash Cooking in 1986.
Lee says he and Humphreys will trade stories and treat their guests to classic recipes, like Shrimp Supreme, a tomatoey-ketchupy gravy with shrimp served over rice or grits.
The Confederate Home & College will use the funds raised to help repair its sprawling compound, which provides affordable housing for the elderly among other things.
"They do lecture series,” says Lee, “and scholarships for women to attend the college of charleston. It was a widows and orphan home, then a women’s college for a few decades. Now it’s one of the traditional nonprofits old Charlestonians contribute to and devote their time to.”
Tickets are $50 and only available via pre-order at brownpapertickets.com. No tickets will be available at the door.