When the courthouse clock struck the first toll of the noon hour, the complexion of the village changed. Shopkeepers and clerks hurried their over-the-counter trade so as not to be late for mealtime; little old ladies in their shawls and bonnets scurried home along side streets to their salads and tea-cakes; doctors and lawyers put aside the healing of the sick and matters at the bar to congregate in the public inn for a plate of the noon-day fare; farmers found a shadier side of the square and rested under tall oak trees while they took their dinner of canned meat and yellow wedges of cheese. It was a time for idle chit-chat, political forum, witty repartee, and peaceful rumination with a temperance and protocol like no other time of day.
–L.W. Thomas Written for the menu of The Warehouse Restaurant, 1984
Cut a stick and a half of butter into four cups self-rising flour. Add one cup grated cheddar cheese, one cup raw chopped mild red pepper, and enough sweet milk for a stiff dough. Roll out, cut into rounds and bake in an oiled skillet in a hot oven until lightly browned. Serve hot or cold filled with shaved ham and herbed cream cheese.
Hoover Lee was a grocer in Louise, Mississippi who created a marinade to replicate Cantonese duck. His concoction has a heavy soy background accented with garlic and ginger.
These chicken leg quarters were marinated overnight and roasted in a slow oven for two hours. The skin is crisp and the flesh succulent, reminiscent of the character if not the precise flavor of roast duck.
Jon Clifton Hinson was born in Tylertown in Walthall County in southwestern Mississippi, in 1942, and attended public schools. In 1959, he worked as a page for Democratic U. S. representative John Bell Williams, who subsequently became governor of Mississippi in 1968. Hinson graduated from the University of Mississippi at Oxford in 1964, and joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve, in which he served until 1970.
Hinson worked on the U.S. House staff as a doorman in 1967, and then served on the staffs of representatives Charles H. Griffin, a Democrat, and Thad Cochran, a Republican. In 1978, Cochran ran successfully for the United States Senate, and Hinson was elected to succeed Cochran in the U.S. House of Representatives for Mississippi’s 4th congressional district. With 51.6 percent of the vote, Hinson defeated the Democrat John H. Stennis, the son of U.S. senator John C. Stennis, who finished with 26.4 percent of the vote. The remaining ballots were cast for independent candidates. Hinson entered the House in 1979.
During his re-election campaign in 1980, Hinson admitted that in 1976, while an aide to Senator Thad Cochran, he had been arrested for committing an obscene act after he exposed himself to an undercover policeman at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. Hinson denied that he was homosexual and blamed his problems on alcoholism. He said that he had reformed and refused to resign. He won re-election with a plurality of 38.97 percent of the vote. Independent Leslie B. McLemore polled 29.8 percent, and Democrat Britt Singletary received 29.4 percent.
Hinson was arrested again on February 4, 1981, and charged with attempted sodomy for performing oral sex on an African-American male employee of the Library of Congress in a restroom of the House of Representatives. At that time, homosexual acts were still criminalized even between consenting adults. The charge was a felony that could have resulted in up to ten years in prison, as well as fines of up to $10,000.
Since both parties were consenting adults (and social attitudes were changing), the United States Attorney’s office reduced the charge to a misdemeanor. Facing a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine, Hinson pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted sodomy the following day and was released without bail pending a trial scheduled for May 4, 1981. Soon thereafter he checked himself into a Washington, D.C.-area hospital for treatment. Hinson later received a 30-day jail sentence, which was suspended, and a year’s probation, on condition that he continued counseling and treatment.
Hinson resigned on April 13, 1981, early in his second term. He said that his resignation had been “the most painful and difficult decision of my life.” He was succeeded in the House by Wayne Dowdy, a Democrat, who won the special election held in the summer of 1981. Soon afterward Hinson acknowledged that he was homosexual and became an activist for gay rights. He later helped to organize the lobbying group “Virginians for Justice” and fought against the ban on gays in the military. He also was a founding member of the Fairfax Lesbian and Gay Citizens Association in Fairfax County.
He never returned to Mississippi but lived quietly in the Washington area, first in Alexandria, Virginia, and then Silver Spring, Maryland. Hinson also disclosed that he survived a 1977 fire that killed nine people at the Cinema Follies, a Washington theater that catered to gay customers. He was rescued from under a pile of bodies, one of only four survivors.
It’s safe to assume that there are closeted government officials at every level—federal, state and local, doubtless from both parties—who are representing their electorate in good faith to the public trust with which they’re invested. From our perspective Hinson’s crash and fall seems not so much a tragedy as it is a farce, the ridiculous result of a man coerced, perhaps even forced into a role he could not play. It’s impossible for us to imagine the pressures put upon him to become a pillar of the Republican Party in its struggle for a stranglehold on the state of Mississippi, but the weight broke the man, reduced him to disgrace, poverty and exile.
Hinson himself is far from blameless; as an openly gay man he would never have been elected to any office in the state of Mississippi, but there’s no reason to doubt that he could have represented his district capably had he exercised more discretion if not to say caution in his personal affairs. Perhaps that’s what he was trying to do, but it’s more probable that like many gay men of his generation in the South, he only knew clandestine solicitation as a venue for sexual commerce.
Hinson, unremembered for any legislation and with no other legacy than creating an eddy in the incessant tide of Republication domination in Mississippi, died in July, 1995 in Fairfax County, VA.
Opposition preceded the acceptance of the potato into nearly every country of Europe. The resistance of European populations to potatoes can probably best be explained by a concept then prevalent in the intellectual milieu, that being the Doctrine of Signatures.
The Doctrine of Signatures can trace its roots back to a brilliant quack named Paracelsus. Paracelsus (1493?—1541) was a Swiss physician and alchemist. His original name was Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, so of course he changed it to Philippus Aureolus Paracelsus as soon as he could (wouldn’t you?). He was both popular and controversial. On the plus side, he rejected Galen’s humeral theory of disease; on the negative side, he promulgated the Doctrine of Signatures.
Basic to this doctrine is the notion that “like cures or affects like,” which is the underlying principle of sympathetic magic. This ancient principle enjoyed such a grip on the medieval mind that even someone as astute as Plutarch might say, “Such is the nature and such the temperament (of any given creature) that it draws out and receives the malady which issues, like a stream, through the eyesight.” Plants bearing parts that resembled human body-parts, animals, or other objects were thought to have useful relevance to those parts, animals, or objects.
So if you wanted a good ruddy complexion, you’d eat beets. If you wanted a pale complexion, you’d eat mushrooms. If you wanted big tits or a big dick, you’d eat . . . well, you get the drift.
Unfortunately for the potato, the early varieties cultivated in Europe produced irregularly shaped tubers, often with white nodules and knobby finger-like growths, which to the superstitious minds then rampant recalled the swollen, deformed feet and hands of lepers. Followers of Paracelsus made much of the supposed likeness between a particular plant and the outward manifestations of a disease, but, far from becoming celebrated as a cure for leprosy, the potato became to be condemned as a cause of the disease, the outcome of a popular inversion of the principle.
How ironic that the potato, a plentiful source of starch and rich in ascorbic acid, should find itself spurned by a population that constantly lived on the brink of starvation and suffered from epidemic scurvy.
The potato had a particularly hard time in France, where the Parliament of Besançon banned the cultivation of the potato out of fear of leprosy in 1630. It was not until 1787 that the potato became acceptable, and even then mostly by virtue of its flowers. Both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette wore the blue blossoms as ornaments in an ill-fated attempt to influence public opinion towards a more favorable attitude of the vegetable, but given the couple’s incredibly poor record in public relations, it probably did more harm than good.
Catherine the Great shocked the Russian court by eating a dish of the tubers in public around the same time, and pronounced them “tres bien”. Catherine was an enlightened monarch, respected in many courts, and due to her blessings upon the potato, it was soon being used as a fermenting base for the making of vodka all over the Russian Empire. Potatoes became a staple in France (and Russia) by the beginning of the nineteenth century, and quickly became accepted throughout Europe.
On a more favorable note, perhaps at least from the vantage of this time of license, potatoes also enjoyed a reputation as an aphrodisiac. This attribute largely came about due to its association with the sweet potato (all potatoes derive their English name from the sweet potato’s name among the Taino, batatas), which played a role in every dish intended to “incite Venus.”
Shakespeare made use of this aspect of potato lore when he wrote of the tuber in two plays written in 1597 and 1602:
FALSTAFF: My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain potatoes, let it thunder to the tune of “Greensleeves,” hail kissing-comfits, and snow eryngoes*. Let there come a tempest of provocation, I will shelter me here… The Merry Wives of Windsor, V, v., 18-22
*sea-holly, Eryngium maritium, enjoyed primarily for its roots, candied with sugar and orange-flower water which, as Evelyn noted in his diary, were a specialty of Colchester, and esteemed an aphrodisiac.
THERSITES: How the devil Luxury, with his fat rump and potato finger, tickles these together. Fry, lechery, fry! Troilus and Cressida, V, ii., 54-56
Potatoes were sold in the streets in 1617 when John Fletcher penned this bit:
I have fine potatoes, Ripe potatoes! Will your Lordship please to taste a fine potato? `Twill advance your wither’d state, Fill your Honour full of noble itches. The Loyal Subject III, v.
Somewhere among the cuneiform tablets found scattered around Ur are bound to be recipes for bean soup, likely even soups using many types of dried beans.
This particular recipe is far more recent—it’s only been around about as long as I have, which dates it to around the time Sputnik was launched—and its connection to the French Market in New Orleans is speculative at best. Having said that, it’s a rich, hearty soup, good hot or cold.
No small degree of this recipe’s appeal is that you can easily make custom combinations of dried beans and parcel them out as gifts. A typical commercial mix contains calls for equal parts navy beans, pinto beans, split green and yellow peas, black-eyed peas, lentils, both baby and large limas, black beans, red beans, Great Northerns, soybeans, and barley pearls, but you can use whatever combination you like in a somewhat similar measure and call it whatever you like.
My buddy Dan Vimes sends me a mix he calls Pelahatchie Peas Pot every year on the anniversary of Nixon’s resignation. Dan puts his bean blend in Kevlar packets. You can put yours in whichever moves your zen, just be sure to throw in a bouquet garni with each package.
You’ll also want to include a good recipe:
Place in a heavy pot a pound of beans and seasoning with 2 quarts water, a ham joint/hock or smoked turkey neck/tail, a cup each chopped onion and celery, and a couple of cayenne pods. Bring to a boil and simmer until beans are soft, adding water if needed. At this point, you can remove meat from bone, chop and throw it back in the pot back to the pot. Sure, it’s a pain to do, but it’s a nice touch, it really is.
Now is when you add canned tomatoes, either small dice or crushed, with a judicious amount of juice. Throw in two very finely minced toes of garlic, and simmer to melding, about another hour. Thicken or thin to your liking, salt and pepper to taste.
Do not make banana pudding with green bananas. Even if the fruit has a tinge of green on the ribs, the banana will be hard and bitter. You must use bananas that are ripe.
Now, you’re not going to find ripe bananas in the grocery store–sometimes I think the public has been conditioned by years of buying green bananas that any banana with a dark spot is spurned–so you have to buy them a bit green.
Fortunately, bananas are climacteric; they ripen after picking. My daddy, who was stationed in the Pacific during WWII, knew quite well how a banana tasted, and put bunches on top of the refrigerator–where we couldn’t reach them–to ripen.
Place grocery bananas in a paper sack–plastic doesn’t let the fruit breathe–and give it a good twist to keep out fruit flies. In two or three days, when the fruit is soft and aromatic you’re ready to make banana pudding. Or banana pound cake. Or peel and eat.
I’m sure most of you line a dish with a crust, fill it with stewed fruit, top it with another crust—maybe a lattice—and call it a cobbler. You can do that, and you would find yourself in agreement with most professional cooks, food writers, and other such edgy riff-raff, but if you ask me–and I know you didn’t–this is just a damn deep-dish pie.
The dish I know of as a cobbler is made with stewed fruit, but no crust. My cobbler is a straight-forward, deeply satiating mixture of stewed fruit and dumplings of sweet dough that rise and brown, making a wonderful pied (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) topping over fruit and spongy dumplings.
This recipe is simple, and like most simple recipes, more procedure than ingredients. Larger fruit should be peeled and sliced or diced. Stone fruit and berries make the best cobblers, though I’ve had pineapple and fig cobblers that were wonderful, and I knew a lady who made an awesome psychedelic cobbler with canned fruit cocktail.
For four cups of fresh fruit make six cups of simple syrup and flavor with a teaspoon vanilla; nutmeg is nice touch. Stew the fruit in the syrup for an hour or so. Make biscuit dough using sweet milk and sugar, knead lightly and roll out to about half an inch, cut into strips, drop by pieces into the hot fruit/syrup mixture. Ladle into a deep baking dish and place in a hot (400) oven until browned. Spoon syrup over the dough as it cools.
If you serve this with anything other than vanilla ice cream, Satan will drag you to hell by your pubes while flogging you with his penis.
A decade after the trauma of the ’60s, Oxford settled into a laid-back, picturesque Southern academic backwater, full of good people with great ideas. The art scene was strong, and the town was full of bright, ambitious young businessmen. Oxford’s flowering of culture in the ’80s was seeded in that time. Those were halcyon years for me, as they were for many, many other people, and the Hoka was very much a part of it for us all.
Ron Shapiro opened the Hoka in 1974. The theater was located across a parking lot from the Gin, the first among many restaurants and bars to open in Oxford after Lafayette County voted wet. The theater was set up in a long, corrugated building with a walkway that extended perhaps 2/3 its length on the west to street level north. A single door was at that end; midway was a short-roofed porch with a glass-paned double doorway. To the left of those doors was the Hoka logo, a winged Chickasaw princess, painted by a local academic artist. In time, many local artists would festoon the structure inside and out. The bathroom graffiti at the Hoka constituted nothing less than an anthropology seminar on local culture.
The auditorium seated perhaps 150-200 people, though our audiences were usually much smaller. The projection booth was up a short flight of stairs from a tiny untidy office, and the concession stand sold candy, popcorn, and soft drinks. We sold tickets from a roll atop what looked like a rough-hewn pulpit at the top of the sloping concrete floor. Inside the projection booth was a table for processing incoming film–checking it for tears, bad splices, twists, or crimps–and the projectors were twin 1936 carbon arc machines, which took a lot of practice with a complex procedure involving levers and foot pedals to switch from one reel to the other. A typical film might be on five or six reels.
I began working at the Hoka in 1977. Typically, in the early days, we’d have two showings, an early movie that started around 6 or 7, and a later feature beginning at 8 or 9, depending on the duration of the first. Later we started showing X-rated flicks at midnight, which caused quite a stir at the time, but were very popular and, of course, profitable.
Films were rented for three to four days, shipped in bulky hexagonal aluminum containers holding anywhere from one to three reels of 35mm film. Most often they were shipped by bus, and we’d pick them up at the Greyhound station on the corner of 10th and Van Buren, but at times we’d drive to Memphis. Once in the theater, the film had to be checked for tears, mended if needed, and then loaded on the antique projectors.
Ron was a good boss; pay could be erratic, but if I needed money, he’d give me enough to get what I needed or do what I wanted. Ron also taught me a lot, and I do mean a lot, about movies. At that time, in that part of the world, movies were still considered by most people to be nothing more than entertainment, but for Ron, as they were for many others like him who operated small independent “art cinemas” across the country, cinema was the leading art form of the 20th century, as well as a portal to other worlds.
Ron showed a lot of great cult movies by cutting-edge artists like John Waters, Russ Meyers, and William Castle. Several years later, Betty Blair Allen opened the Moonlight Café in the Hoka, and before long, it became a very special sort of place for dinner and a movie.
At a time when film was just coming into its own as an academic medium, Shapiro introduced generations of Ole Miss students to the works of Fellini, Wilder, Woody Allen, Capra, and Chaplain. Shapiro brought film as art to Oxford.
Cream a stick of butter with a cup of brown sugar. Blend in two beaten eggs, a teaspoon each vanilla and almond extract, and two very ripe mashed bananas.
Using a whip, stir in a mix of 2 cups plain flour sifted with 2 teaspoons baking powder, and a teaspoon each baking soda and salt. Mix and add enough almond milk to make a smooth batter, a little on the thin side.
Pour into a lined and oiled 9×5 loaf pan, and place in a 350 oven until the loaf pulls away from the pan, about an hour.