Grit Blogs > Country at Heart

Fried Turtle for Dinner

My older brother, sister and I were accompanying our neighbor, Mrs. Brown, through the woods. Have no idea where we were going, but probably to "Cousin" Callie's house. At least we were headed in that direction. Or, we could have been just foraging the woods, but that, too, is unlikely. Seldom did we just waste time roaming through the woods without a concrete purpose or destination, and especially if we were with an adult. So we must have been on an important expedition or something like that.

Anyway, before that day, we had heard stories about turtles. There are, of course, two kinds - land turtles (scavengers ) and water turtles (the kind suitable to eat) - or it's the other way around. Folklore has it that turtles (when being cooked continue to jump in the skillet, even though they're door-knob dead). Even as naive as I was, I knew that one wasn't true, but it's an amusing tale, nevertheless.

Now, we're back on the path through the wilderness. Somewhere during our journey, we came upon a stream, which makes me believe we were in the deep woods near Cousin Callie's house. Suddenly, we spotted this turtle near the edge of a brook. We kids were unsure if it was edible, but apparently to Mrs. Brown the creature looked liked a delicious meal ... perfect for that day's dinner (or dupper as we called the late evening meal in the South).

You know how little, old ladies carry all kind of stuff on their person. So from somewhere in her stash, Neighbor found a string and secured the small reptile to a tree branch ... until we would pass back that way. I was sure that creature would have squirmed its way out of those "handcuffs" by the time we got back, but I guess that little female sheriff had a pretty good choke-hold on it, because it was right where she's arrested it.

When we got back home, and to our delight and astonishment, Mrs. Brown invited us back to have some fried turtle, turtle gravy, baking soda biscuits and a tall glass of buttermilk. Even if the turtle jumped the entire time it was frying, by the time those little "buffalo wings" landed on our plates, they had stopped jumping, and we had a delicious, down-home, Southern feast.