I sat next to Lorraine in school for over a dozen years.Her last name started with Pa, mine with Pe.We were always friendly in our seats, but we ran with different crowds.In late-June 1965 we graduated from MassapequaHigh School, and the last time we saw each other was alphabetically in the row of chairs on the football field at graduation.She went her way; I went mine.
Thirty-five years later I was in my reunions phase of life, family, fraternity, school chums, etc. I went onto Classmates.com to try to organize a reunion dinner at Dick and Doras, a school haunt back in the old hometown.That started a lot of chatter amongst people who had been out of contact for almost four decades.Whole lives had been changed, changed again, and again.There was a lot to catch up on and a feeling of picking up where we left off between people who had shared the same space year after year in the 1950s and 60s.Lorraine from one seat over answered via e-mail.She had become a schoolmarm, a head mistress, in Atlanta running a small private school she created after years in the teaching ranks.One thing, she was no longer Lorraine, just plain Rain.She had gotten the nickname shortly after high school when she moved to Hawaii.I guess it fit, tropical forest, sarong, hence Rain.Her flowers for the age of Flower Power were orchids.After several years of that life Rain came home to that other tropical island paradise, Long Island, met Ron and rode off on his Harley down Jericho Turnpike into the sunset.Thirty years later they still ride off to the GreatSmokeyMountains each summer on his Harley (a new one) and enjoy romping in fields of flowers. I have pictures!You can take the girl out of Hawaii and the 60s, but not the other way around.
As we corresponded, we found we had a great passion in common, cooking.Not just cooking, but cooking big for friends and family.You cant get around people with Italian heritage.Sooner or later we all venture into the kitchen and renew the demands of our DNA.Rain and I started swapping recipes, and when I started doing Home Cooking Parties, she was enthralled.Each time I would put on a dinner, she wanted all of the details. So I wrote.Story after story of what happened; who I met; what menu I created.Quite a few of the stories in this book came from my e-mails to Rain.Thanks, R.
Rain introduced me to an exciting one-pot dish that comes from the Gullah and Geechees traditions in the Low Country, the coastal marshlands of South Carolina and Georgia.The Low Country Boil is a really spicy and delicious combination of seafood, meat and vegetables like a New England Clambake, only without the clams, crabs, lobsters and seaweed.Well, its sorta like a New England Clambake.Its boiled in a pot and spiced with African, Spanish and Caribbean influences, it has romantic local names like St. Helena Island Stew, Captn Fuskies Boil and Frogmore Stew and as many variations as its distant Creole cousin from Louisiana, gumbo.It has been made for over 400 years in the Low Country and each family has its own secret recipe.
I prepared this dish with friends not knowing what to expect, and when we sat down and ate it the spices seemed mild upon first bite, but in 5 minutes some of us had tears and were sweating!I have dialed down the spices in this version of the recipe to give you a slightly milder experience.I also dialed up the flavor by adding vegetable stock.My take on Rains recipe is still full of flavor and zing, but with less mouth and lip-burn.I guess I have joined the ranks of families with their own secret boil recipes.Have fun with The Boil and other Gullah treats of Low Country Cooking.