America Eats by Nelson Algren, David E. Schoonover

By Nelson Algren, David E. Schoonover

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The French in all parts of the Middle West have had a penchant for bouillon parties, from the first settlements down to the present. At such occasions as card parties, eaten with crackers or bread, bouillon still replaces coffee in southern Illinois among the French. 33 34 Another old French custom of the same area still lends an added zest to holiday suppers by using in the bouillon chickens stolen by one  < previous page < previous page page_28 page_29 next page > next page > Page 29 member of the community from another.

While the ball game is still in full swing and the horseshoe pitchers are still trying for ringers, a little group of men may drift off to a convenient spot behind a building or in a clump of trees. There they stand solemnly and talk in low tones while Uncle John or Cousin Ned opens a bottle of whiskey. In times past it would have been pure Jasper County corn distilled in Uncle John's back lot, but today the art of moonshining is almost gone from the Hoosier hills. There's a drink around and pipes are lighted.

A fire is built between two flat stones, a shining new wash boiler produced, and coffee-making is under way. Half a dozen of the village women are ranged behind the table, which boasts neither a tablecloth nor cutlery. The men have brought great platters of sliced buffalo meat, dark and a trifle stringy on the inside, crisp and dark brown around the outer edges. The hungry crowd, though giving the impression of a stampede in the beginning, has now formed an orderly line and files past the table where each is given a paper plate 49 50 containing buns and several large slices of meat and has a chance to grab a pickle or two in passing.

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