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Beyond Grits & Gravy Store Lunch BY JERRY LEATH MILLS Throughout the rural South, men with regular business in the country—hunters, fishermen, farmers, surveyors, and traveling agents ofvarious trades—traditionally enjoy a repast known as the Store Lunch. I say "men" advisedly, for this tends to be a gender-specific ceremony seldom enjoyed by women. The beauty of this meal lies partly in its simplicity—everything needed in the way ofplace setting are a knife blade and a knee to balance cans on—and partly in its comprehensive nutrition , combining as it does die four major food groups: fat, sodium, sugar, and above: Country store on a Sunday afternoon, Person County, 19)9. Courtesy ofthe Southern Historical Collection, University ofNorth Carolina-ChapelHill. 149 dirt. It may be eaten in the country store where it is purchased, or on the front steps thereof, or off the tailgate of a truck somewhere beside a dirt road. The following list is for the full complement, the High Store Lunch. Items may be omitted or recombined at will. ? 8-ounce can pork & beans ? small can Vienna sausages (the real ones, with various pork scraps, not the effete low-fat chicken variety) ? small tin potted meat or deviled ham ? tin sardines packed in soybean oil and sprinkled liberally with Texas Pete or other hot stuff ? pickled egg, preferably a pink one that has had beet juice added to the marinade ? wedge yellow hoop cheese ? large box saltines ? pickled pig foot (known variously as "trotters" or "mudgrips") ? can (size optional) mixed fruit packed in heavy syrup ? cellophane-wrapped creme-filled oatmeal cookie or raisin cake In these modern times, most of die cans will have easy-open ring tops. Ifnot, they may be pried open widi any heavy, pointed tool from the tool box in the back of the truck. To eat, remove knife from pocket and lick thoroughly to remove any residual fish scales or rabbit hairs; then use blade as an all-purpose implement to ladle food into mouth. I50 JERRY LEATH MILLS ...


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