Coon Pie: a Recipe for an Appalachian Delight
In the Appalachian foothills we have recipes handed down from generation-to-generation for concocting our favorite dishes. One of mine happens to be what I like to call Coon Pie. Not the kind of pie you eat, mind you, but the kind that feeds your hillbilly soul, nurturing it and making it hum like a Junebug on a screen door. The kind that makes both man and child dream at night, eagerly awaiting the coming of fall when the cool night air browns the corn stalks and turns the wild grapes sugar sweet.
Now this is the time of the hunter. This is when we prepare to make our Coon Pie and gather the ingredients. The first of which are the hounds. They are all-important, for, without those long-eared, saggy-skinned rascals there would be no flavor to the hunt. Those lovable canines are the main ingredient for the pie – the filling, if you will, as well as the spice. We want them to be trustworthy, to run no off game, to handle and be tree minded, and to be good hunters with beautiful mouths to entertain us and light-up the night woods with celestial mountain music.
The woodlands are our next additive, our top crust, you might say. Ideally preferred is a mixture of forest and cropland, coupled with creek bottoms and an occasional pond to keep Mr. Coon healthy, happy and wise. We must have a nifty quarry to fulfill our dream of the hunt and give the hounds fair and challenging chase.
And to bake our Coon Pie we have an old-fashioned wood stove like the one Grandma had in her kitchen on Thanksgiving. And that warm oven is the Good Company of our hunting party. This must be as solid as steel, a marriage of sorts, for we will bake our Coon Pie in the sturdy souls of those who are privileged to follow our good dogs on the hunt. Let it bake in the minds, hearts and souls of these diverse yet compatible, respectful and humbly grateful folks. Those who are appreciative of the absolute privilege to carry a rifle and be able to follow their hounds over greenbriar ridges and steep, slippery, carved-out sandstone hollows together and let the feeling of the hunt, the night sky, clean air and the baying of the hounds mesmerize them and lead them to fascinating places they would never otherwise go.
Leading them ultimately to The Third Eye, to that ethereal place where they can be freed from all their worldly concerns and become one with the raw simplicity of nature and the night woods. To become, themselves, just a footprint in the darkness, or, if only for a moment, a breeze on a hillside that caresses a crimson maple leaf and then lightly swirls across their faces leaving an invisible but deeply penetrating touch of joy.
This is our Coon Pie. Cut yourself a slice and enjoy. And Hunt on.
Written for hunting buddies: Bud Steinmetz and Tyler Shuman, Keith, Bruce, Bryan and Makenzie Burgett; Luke Cosart; Leah and Adam Graham; Jim, Jake and Matt Fondriest And for anybody else simple-minded enough to tag along.
Also written for the hounds: Fog, the Redbone; Sammy, the Treeing Walker; Gin, the English Redtick; and Misty Blue Lady, the Bluetick pup. May their trails be hot ones and their trees glowing with shining eyes.