Tennessee Mountain Stories

A Humble Pone of Cornbread

I was raised to understand that every meal had to have bread.  It was very often cornbread.  Certainly my grandparents’ generation ate cornbread because flour was scarce and everybody grew a field of corn.  I guess they got used to eating cornbread about everyday and they kept doing it even as they fed children and grandchildren when store-bought flour was easily had.

Well since I don’t follow a horse and plow all day, chop corn or walk to church I’ve had to rethink a number of these food necessities.  Therefore, we don’t have cornbread very often.  But when we do, it’s a special treat.  I have a girlfriend who’ll eat every bite of cornbread you’ll feed her.  She’ll eat it cold.  She’ll eat it if you leave it in the oven a little too long. 

In fact, I’ve found a lot of folks off the mountain who just don’t quite know what to do with a pone of cornbread.  I guess I find this a little ironic since cornbread is something we mountain-folk can stir up in a minute and have a skillet full before you know it.  We can put it in milk, smother it with pinto beans or slather it with jelly.  And we can make it anytime – gritted if the corn’s not yet dry enough to grind, fried if the oven’s not hot.

My grandpa remembered carrying it in his dinner bucket – he said he just couldn’t enjoy cold cornbread.  But when you’re taking your midday break in the belly of the earth covered in coal dust, you eat what you brought and you’re glad to get it. 

If there’s a slice of this pone left over tomorrow – we’ll be heating it in the microwave.