I can’t pronounce my R’s and G’s
When I’m speaking Southernese
— Jimmy Buffet
According to my Chambers Dictionary of Etymology, the word “shuck” as a verb means to remove the husk, pod or shell and first appeared in 1819, and the word “jive” as a verb means to mislead, deceive or fool and first appeared in 1928 in the title of a Louis Armstrong recording. There is no entry for shuck and jive.
Black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread.
According to Wikipedia, a source to which I seldom resort, shuckin’ and jivin’ is a slang for joking and acting evasively, especially adapting certain speech and behavior in the presence of an authoritative figure. Sounds like a Stepin Fetchit character, though Wikipedia fails to make the connection. Sneer if you must, but the act made the man a millionaire.
Now, I’ve been accused of jivin’, and may in fact have engaged in the practice a time or two when it was called for and the butt of the endeavor was particularly loathsome, but I suspect my talents at shuckin’ are largely unknown except to family and a few childhood friends. Shuckin’ is best performed on a porch while seated in a wooden rocking chair, but sometimes you just have to improvise. The secret is out.
Having been reared south of the Red River, I developed a taste for black-eyed peas. Not the dried kind you have soak for a week and half and still taste chalky and bitter no matter how much bacon and pepper sauce you add. No, siree, the only way to dine on fine black-eyed peas, cowboy caviar to the initiated, is fresh from the garden. I always include an ample ratio of snaps. One, you don’t have to shuck those. Two, they are mighty tasty.
I prepare mine in a cast iron Dutch oven on the grill. Fry a couple of slices of bacon, stir in onion and bell pepper, deglaze with a splash of marsala or sherry, boil in chicken broth until al dente, sprinkle a generous amount of Paula Deen Southern spice mix — speakin’ of shuckin’ and jivin’ — and serve with Trappey’s pepper sauce.
Come fall, I’ll pull out the spent black-eyed peas and plant collard greens.
Pass the cornbread, y’all.