Introducing our newest contributor: Vivian Howard, a chef who left the New York City restaurant scene to return home to North Carolina where she now owns three restaurants. (And did we mention that she was an intern here at "Sunday Morning" back in the 1990s?) This morning she has a message that's perfect for the season:
Every culture seems to have a broth with healing powers. I never thought about it much before, but there's this "bone broth" craze sweeping America that's forced me to look closer at the slow-stewed liquids we believe do more than just fill our bellies.
Bone broth is made from simmering bones for a long, long, long time. It has a health-obsessed cult following. They believe that drinking it cures arthritis, boosts immunity, and helps you lose weight.
I'm not a bone broth disciple. I believe it's actually stock, and stock is the foundation for many of the world's most iconic dishes. We've been eating, drinking or slurping something incredibly similar to bone broth for basically ever.
This trend -- and the fact that someone shoves a bowl of chicken soup in your face every time you catch a cold -- suggests, though, that there is something to this idea of broths can heal.
Recipes from Vivian Howard:
When I cooked at Spice Market, a New York restaurant dedicated to Asian street food, we made soup with black chickens, ginseng and red dates. Chef Grey Kunz told me it was a curative tradition from China -- a tonic that addressed fatigue, osteoporosis and hair loss.
But when I was tired at the end of a long shift with a pot of that soup nearby, I still chose the samosas or chicken wings for fuel.
When my husband, Ben, who's Jewish, feels a cough coming on, he laments that we live in Eastern North Carolina and there's no matzo ball soup to be found. I guess I could make some, but I'm sure my matzo balls would be dense and disappointing.
And although I've never had it, I've read Chef Tunde Wey's account of Nigerian pepper soup made with goat broth, negro peppers and agbo (or herbs soaked in water). Nigerians believe the soup treats things like malaria, typhoid and the measles.
Needless to say, I hope I never have to stew a pot of that!
I'm a connect-the-dotter, so naturally I wanted to find the dot that is my culture's magic broth. What I uncovered is so obvious, it's embarrassing.
Potlikker, the vitamin-rich broth left over from slow stewing a pot of greens with smoked pork, is liquid gold in the American South. My mom used to drink it from a tea cup with the same attention I might sip a glass of fine Barolo.
She says it's the healthiest and tastiest part of the greens pot. The potlikker is where all the good stuff goes while the greens boiled toward soft oblivion.
Nobody in my family wastes a drop of the murky liquid. Instead of multi-vitamins, we sop it, slurp it or drink it for its ability to nourish and satisfy.
Potlikker heals … I'm sure of it. In fact, it's probably the next bone broth!
For more info:
- "Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South" by Vivian Howard (Little, Brown), in Hardcover and eBook formats; Available from Amazon
- "A Chef's Life" (PBS)
- Chef & the Farmer Restaurant, Kinston, N.C.