Download America Eats by Nelson Algren, David E. Schoonover PDF

By Nelson Algren, David E. Schoonover

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The barbecue pit is dug the previous day and a fire started in the late evening. By midnight the bottom of the pit contains a deep bed of glowing coals free from smoke. The meat is placed on the spit, and the spit must be turned at exactly the right moment to force the juices back into the roasting meat rather than letting them trickle off into the fire. The sauce, a tangy mixture of salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil, is swabbed on at intervals. By midmorning the meat is ready to serve. A table made of boards placed across trestles is set up near the pit.

In these later days, the custom, perhaps more frequently observed now and on a wider scale, retains a measure of its former meaning. It brings folks together and reminds them of where their forefathers came from. More particularly now, it is a means of raising cash for the local church. A plate holding two rolled napkins is placed before each person. One napkin contains a knife, fork, and spoon. Folded within the other is lefse, made of potatoes, mashed and cooled, mixed with milk and flour, rolled thin, and baked on the lids of the stove.

As each person secures his share of the lunch, he marches on to the steaming coffee boiler where a couple of women are ladling the hot strong brew into tin cups. There are sugar and cream for those who must have them, but the style of the day is to drink it black. Plates and cups once filled, it is merely a matter of finding a spot of ground free of sandburs and sitting down. There is much talk and laughter, punctuated by squeals or yelps as hot coffee splashes over or concealed sandburs are discovered.

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