About the Film
This spontaneously-shot surprising documentary looks across the South to see the connections between the folk heritage traditions of communal cooking in gigantic black iron pots stirred with wooden paddles maintained into the 21st century by culinary folk artisans called “stewmasters” with their stew crews. With wit and humor, Southern Stews carries us from Kentucky and Virginia into Georgia and South Carolina to discover ancestral stews that honor an agrarian past and contain the blended history of our European, African, Native American, and frontier settler roots in one-pot meals.
From hunter stews in Kentucky to Sea Island stews first cooked by African American slaves, to the hash that is peculiar only to South Carolina and the "stew-wars" that crop up between Virginia's Brunswick County and the coastal town of Brunswick, Georgia, these pottages include ingredients of local meats and vegetables, onions and potatoes (and some say "roadkill" and others "the kitchen sink"). But no-matter the stew, when the huge cast iron pots are steaming and being stirred with wooden paddles, you know that stewmasters and crews are drawn into community in preparing for a large stew gathering at volunteer fire departments, rural churches, family reunions, or stew festival competitions…and the stories and "leg-pulling" around the pots are continual & never-ending.