David Lauderdale

Column: New Year's luck uncorks a new day in the old South

Adam Simoneaux, left, and Murray Baughman prepare sausage for New Year's customers Dec. 30, 2024, at Scotts Market in Bluffton.
Adam Simoneaux, left, and Murray Baughman prepare sausage for New Year's customers Dec. 30, 2024, at Scotts Market in Bluffton. Staff photo

Fire-breathing Bluffton boys gathered at the Secession Oak 170 years ago to rail against Northerners intruding on their way of life.

As a new year dawns on their beloved Lowcountry, I bet they would be rolling over in their graves.

Or, at the very least, reaching for their Rolaids.

I asked Adam Simoneaux at Scotts Market in Bluffton what part of the hog was moving the fastest for New Year's Day tables. His answer was stunning.

"Fresh kielbasa," he said.

"We make it here and I can't make it fast enough this week. They tell me they serve it with sauerkraut or steamed cabbage."

Now, either we've got a lot of Polish weddings planned for New Year's Day, or the secession idea has been proven once again to be a dismal failure.

And here I thought that hog jowls, ham hocks, smoked neck bones, fatback, streak o' lean, bacon, salt pork, pork bellies or even pork chops would be the belles of the New Year's Day ball in the Lowcountry. If there was going to be an "invasion," surely it would be the Boston butt.

We all know that eating pork, collard greens and Hoppin' John on New Year's Day will add a jolt to our paltry fortunes like putting a hand on the radio for brother Oral Roberts.

We come from people who had to eat everything a pig had to offer if they were going to eat at all. Blood pudding, hog's head hash, hog's head cheese, chitlins', feet, tails and brains. My people ate it all. And, oh, how they cherished the lard a 600-pound hog could render.

The South's cured hams became a delicacy to the world.

I bought some year-old, smoked country ham from Kentucky and got fussed at by pig purists because it was cured with some sugar in with the salt. And you wonder why we have civil wars.

But nobody has any qualms about Adam Simoneaux still making the breakfast sausage that his uncle Jeff Scott and his grandfather George H. Scott made. Their Scotts Meats and then Scotts IGA supermarket were like Bluffton's Macy's.

"It's my great-grandmother's recipe," said Simoneaux, now running a third-generation emporium of local and regional delicacies. "That's the way Ma Scott made it."

And if it's kielbasa the folks of Bluffton want, that's fine, too.

Because somewhere on the south side of Chicago, someone is making kielbasa just like his grandmother made it.

In New York City, someone is making Filipino pork hock and cabbage soup.

In Cuba, someone is covering a suckling pig with banana leaves and cooking it over coals in a backyard pit.

In Italy, lentils are simmering with coin-shaped slices of sausage.

In Minnesota, they're reaching into the barrel for pickled herring.

And deep in the heart of the stubborn old South, we can't make fresh kielbasa fast enough for a new day, in a new year.

Call it blind luck.

Contact columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.

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