I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Galena, Missouri.

Greetings from Galena, Missouri
N 36° 47.079’ W 093° 30.350’ Elev. 885 ft.

Having worked through the holidays the crew of the SS Me So Hungry was primed and ready for a little shore leave. And a fine one it is: It’s the Soul Food Shore Leave.

We always have great foods when we dock in Galena. The crew is able to request things and, more often than not, those wishes are fulfilled with great alacrity.

We’d heard that the Duke and Duchess of Earl had baked a ham for New Year’s Day. Naturally, we requested that they save the crew some ham. Unfortunately, the estate had been invaded by Chubb, Cam and Corty, three 15- to 18-year-old boys with teenaged appetites who will forever more be known collectively as The Three Mouthketeers.

I don’t know exactly how big the ham was but I’m guessing it was about 15-23 pounds. But by the time the SS Me So Hungry sailed in three days later the ham was all but gone. All was not lost however: The Three Mouthketeers hadn’t eaten the bone. So the Duchess made her famous Pinto Beans and Cornbread. And they were fabulous and soulful.

The beans are a simple preparation. First she brings the beans to a boil in water and baking soda and then, after removing them from the heat, lets them soak for an hour. This is known as two things: a quick soak (otherwise you have to soak the beans overnight) and — to use her technical term — “de-farting the beans.”

After rinsing the beans, you bring them back to a boil, adding a little salt, about a half-tablespoon of sugar and half a chopped onion. After they boil a bit, add the ham bone and let them boil until the beans are tender. After the beans are tender, remove the ham bone and remove the meat from the bone. After putting the meat back in, let the beans simmer while you — and this is a very important step — make cornbread.

After the cornbread is done, enjoy the beans with a dash of Tobasco® or your favorite salsa. I like to toss a piece of cornbread in the bowl and cover it with beans. I’m telling you, this is soul food!

The next day the Duke made Oxtail Soup. Oxtail Soup is impossible to find out in the real world. The only places you’ll find is the odd soul food restaurant. It’s understandable, though. Oxtails cost a small fortune — $4.99 a pound! But it’s so simple to make and so awesome to eat.

The Oxtail Soup was made with oxtails, carrot, onion, bell pepper, potatoes, celery, a can of diced tomatoes, and then stewed in chicken broth and the juice of the tomatoes. It was seasoned very simply with salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash and garlic powder. Simply braise the oxtails and then throw the whole kit and kaboodle in a crackpot and let it simmer until the meat falls off the bone.

It, too, turned out seriously great and there was plenty to go around; the Duchess and The Three Mouthketeers were afraid of the oxtails. Sissies!

For the coup de grace, that night I made a sandwich of grilled ham and fresh pineapple with the few ham remnants the Duchess was somehow able to miraculously save for me.

When I was a kid my mom would make us both pineapple (canned) and banana sandwiches. Using only mayonnaise on the bread, they were seriously good. Heck, they still are.

Which reminds me of two things: First is that there are fingerling bananas here and, second, that life is pretty freakin’ good.

Here’s wishing y’all a Happy, Healthy and Lucrative New Year.

And so we roll.

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.

About The Author

Tio Wally

Tio Wally is pilot emeritus of the 75-foot, 40-ton land yacht SS Me So Hungry. Now a committed landlubber, he reports on food wherever he is whenever his fancy strikes.

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