Back in SC, we had no sweets around the house. Except possibly vanilla wafers, and those quickly became tiresome. Sometimes we had bananas, and when they went over the edge, the old lady would mash them up and put cream and sugar in with it, and then cover the whole thing with vanilla wafers, and then cook it in the oven for a while and then we would eat that.
We never had potato chips either. That’s hard to imagine today what with all the sorts and kinds of chips wherever you look. But I don’t remember a bag of potato chips in the place. I guess we were deprived. But every once in a blue moon on a Friday evening, when maybe he had a good week money-wise, the old man would stop at this place by the Laurens Drive in and buy hash and he would buy potato chips then.
That was about the whole meal unless the old lady made coleslaw which was a possibility and something she knew how to do. So we would eat those chips, and you put that hash in the middle of a piece of white bread, and if any bread was left you used it to sop up the hash juice from your plate. I don’t know but I loved that hash and missed it deeply when we moved to California.
Many years later when we went back to SC for a visit I was happy and proud that my Uncle Earl had gone into the hash business. He didn’t do it on a regular basis but for holidays, especially the Fourth of July which is celebrated down south for different reasons than the rest of the country. Fire stations would make hash too. Uncle Earl just attached a cardboard sign to his mailbox and at one point he sold the hash at eight dollars a pint because it didn’t come by the pound but in little containers, like they have at Chinese places, with little wire handles on them.
I thought maybe I had built that hash up a little in my mind and when I sat down to eat some at Uncle Earl’s place I was prepared to be disappointed. But I wasn’t. Maybe it wasn’t quite what I remembered but it was near enough. I am not entrepreneurially inclined, but I did sit around some and thought about how I might mass market that stuff. People by that time had all become calorie counters and nutritious-wise and since that hash was probably about as God awful as any meat could be for a person, I figured I would have to market it as anti-health. Put maybe a little American flag on the container and advertise it as “Not Meat. The Pure Essence of Meat.”
Uncle Earle had a hash house built right next to his real house. Inside, he had a couple of forty gallon vats. He would put the meat in those and add some little water, and vinegar, he said, and some secret sauce, though I believe he was kidding. His recipe as I recollect was something like 300 pounds of beef plus 300 pounds of pork and slow heat for 48 hours, stirring constantly so it did not stick to the bottom of the vat, and a whole bunch of onions. That was it. Plus salt and pepper, and slow cooked that meat just broke down yielded up to the quivering palette the Pure Essence or Nectar of Meat.