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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James and Nannie Pharis, December 5, 1978; January 8 and 30, 1979. Interview H-0039. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Farming, gardening, and foodways of working people

Nannie Pharis addresses the foodways of working people in Spray, North Carolina. While Pharis and her siblings worked at the cotton mill, her parents remained in the country and farmed. Here, Pharis describes the kinds of foods they grew and how they prepared food, drawing attention to her family's self-sufficiency.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James and Nannie Pharis, December 5, 1978; January 8 and 30, 1979. Interview H-0039. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ALLEN TULLOS:
Would you have a chance to eat?
NANNIE PHARIS:
We got an hour for lunch.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Where would you go for lunch?
NANNIE PHARIS:
Go home, because we lived close enough to go to the house. Was a pink bean sandwich be all we'd have. That's the truth, I ain't lying. Sometimes something better.
ALLEN TULLOS:
A pink bean sandwich? How would you make that?
NANNIE PHARIS:
They'd be made when we got there. One of them would be there to have it ready. We'd eat together.
JAMES PHARIS:
Tell him how many different ways you learned to cook fat back meat.
NANNIE PHARIS:
Wasn't no fat back meat then, those days. You mean batter it, fat back meat. That would make good gravy, milk gravy.
ALLEN TULLOS:
When are you talking about?
NANNIE PHARIS:
That was after we was married.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Let's go back to the pink bean sandwich.
NANNIE PHARIS:
The pink beans was real good. A whole lot better than the pintos. They took the place, you know. Maybe we'd have an apple to eat, a fruit.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did people grow pink beans around?
NANNIE PHARIS:
Yes, they did.
ALLEN TULLOS:
They don't seem to grow pintos.
NANNIE PHARIS:
Not around here, no.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did your father grow these pink beans?
NANNIE PHARIS:
Sometimes, occasionally. Not very many, but he did enough to do us. He growed black-eyed peas, white beans. My mother would make churns of kraut to last us through the winter. They had ways then.
ALLEN TULLOS:
To make a pink bean sandwich, how would you do that?
NANNIE PHARIS:
Mash them and put it between bread, biscuit. Didn't have light bread unless you bought it whole and sliced it yourself. Very seldom ever saw any, what they called light bread them days. We used to bake it.
ALLEN TULLOS:
So you'd make these on biscuits?
NANNIE PHARIS:
That's right, make it on biscuits. When I was growing up my father would take his wheat and corn to a gristmill and have it ground. That was good bread. Had a good taste.
JAMES PHARIS:
Most everybody in them days canned enough stuff and put away enough stuff that they raised in the summer to take care of them through the winter.
NANNIE PHARIS:
Wasn't any canning much done in them days. We'd dry apples and things like that. Enough to do us. Make kraut.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Your mother and father dried apples.
NANNIE PHARIS:
That's right. Peaches.
ALLEN TULLOS:
What were some other things they were growing in their garden?
NANNIE PHARIS:
Well, they grow about everything. Cabbage. Lots of potatoes, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes. Lots of tomatoes, squash, string beans, watermelons, canteloupes, most everything you could mention, they had it.
ALLEN TULLOS:
How much land were they using?
NANNIE PHARIS:
I forget how many acres they had. Enough to keep them busy.