I’m a country boy and have always loved the simpler things in life like hunting, fishing, coon hounds and camping. It was alway a joy when we could go back to Pinnacle Mountain and a place called Long Rock to set up a camping site and cook supper and just enjoy being out under the stars miles from civilization. One such camping trip holds a special place in my heart simply because it turned out to be a horrible experience from the meal we cooked.
My Uncle John had invited me and two other family members to go camping at Long Rock one Saturday evening. As was the usual custom, he packed Grandma’s big black cast iron pot, the one in which she always cooked leather britches for Sunday dinners and sometimes used when making her mouth watering chicken and dumplings.
He had also packed our groceries for the evening; a couple of heads of those mountain grown cabbages that are so tasty and have a reputation for being the best grown in these here parts, a bag of tomatoes, Big boys all ripe and red full of juice that would squirt with each bite. He had a little piece of fat back to be used for seasoning and a pone of cornbread Grandma had special made for our camping trip.
We drove over the mountain to Long Rock and built a campfire and soon had that big cast iron pot getting hot over the coals of our fire, he soon added the fatback (cured in Grandpa’s smoke house and salted to perfection). When the salted pork had fried a bit in the pot and enough grease had been cooked down, he added in the chopped cabbage. Pretty soon the air area around our camp site had the wonderful smell of fried cabbage and all of us were getting our appetites whetted in anticipation of diving into some good vitals in a short while.
Uncle John had also cut two hot peppers into our cabbage. He had gotten them from my dad’s garden. Now I didn’t eat hot pepper back then and still don’t eat very much hot pepper unless it has been pickled like jalapeño you find in the grocery store so I was a just a little leery of this addition to our cabbage which in my opinion needed nothing more to be added..
Pretty soon Uncle John said it was time to eat and he dipped us a plateful. The first bite became our last bite. The pepper he added became the ruination of our meal and proved to be too much of a good thing. He poured the whole pot out and we wound up eating light bread and maters, without mayonnaise.
We had taken a dog with us, a crossbred blue-tick coon hound. Hoss was a big old hound whose mother was a blue tick and his father an Airedale. When we poured the cabbage out, he gobbled it up in just a couple of huge bites, like he was darn near starved. he suddenly raised up his head and let out a war whoop and darted off into the woods like he’s seen the mother of all coons, howling as he went. We listened as he went out of hearing heading for some creek or branch to cool his parched tongue. He never came back till morning.
We enjoyed the remainder of our camping trip and learned never to put hot pepper directly in the cabbage we planned on eating. Hoss went on to become a great hunting dog and died of old age.