What's In a Name (or a Stew)?

By Patricia B. Mitchell

Recipes with odd names always intrigue me. Shrimp Wiggle, Rum Tum Diddy, Toad-in-a-Hole, Frogmore Stew, Snickerdooodles, Mile High Pontchartrain Pie, and Better Than Sex Cake are all names which certainly catch ones attention. Pine Bark Stew is another strangely-named dish. This spicy bouillabaisse is popular in Georgia and the Carolinas. How it got its name is a bit mysterious. Some say that Native Americans made the thick soup and served it on pine bark slabs. Others say that the dish was cooked over fires made mostly from pine bark. Another theory is that the dish is the color of pine tree bark; or that long ago tender little pine tree roots were used as a seasoning in the stew.

Like the choice of explanations for the name of the stew, variations on the recipe abound. Printed here is one from an old Troy, North Carolina cookbook, courtesy Martha McKinnon Harris of Albemarle, North Carolina.

South Carolina Pinebark Fish Stew