If I asked you what a “potlikker” was, would you be able to tell me? Chances are that if you are under the age of 50 you probably can’t.
“Potlikker” is the name of the vitamin-rich broth that is left over from a “mess of greens”. Great, southern cooks would drain that broth to use in other ways--like as a flavor-enhancer for another dish or to use as a soup to dip a piece of cornbread in. Turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens or poke salad were all worthy candidates to leave potlikker behind.
This style of cooking was especially important in the African American communities. In fact, food played a very important role in the rise of the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s. Most of us know that Nashville played a pivotal role in that movement. Do you remember where it took place? The lunch-counter sit-ins at Woolworths on Church Street. And the Montgomery bus boycott? That effort was supported largely by the cooking of black women who sold their food to folks all over Montgomery and made the money available for black folks to get a cab to get to work instead of taking the bus.
These and many other stories are featured in this year’s “Nashville Reads” selection called “The Potlikker Papers” written by Nashville’s own John T. Edge. Each year the Nashville Public Library chooses a book that everyone in the city is encouraged to read. This year we are taking on this challenge and asking our congregation to read the book and then come to a discussion of it on Wednesday, May 9th, in the Fellowship Hall at 5:00 p.m. This is our regular Wednesday night meal, but for May 9th, Erin Taylor has agreed to fix a meal that features food from the book--including some potlikker.
After dinner, we will have an open discussion of the book and share the things we learned and ask questions of each other. It ought to be informative and a lot of fun. You can get the book from any local bookstore or order it online. It is our hope that all of us will try and read the book, but even if you can’t, be sure to be with us that night to have a great meal and participate in the discussion afterward.
You can read more about our Potlikker Potluck & sign-up here.