Fish stew and more

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During the reception for the previous owners of this paper, it wasn’t long before I had a list of contacts and phone numbers from people in the community. I was offered a card with information, as was everyone else in the room. On the card was an announcement for the fox hunt in Albertson.

I admit that I’d never heard of Albertson. The only other place I’ve lived besides Sampson County is Wayne County, so I am familiar with many of the communities. Not Albertson.

I immediately wondered where did they get the foxes from and do they trap them and hold them until fox hunt day?

It took me a few weeks to figure it out. There are no foxes. And the person who probably handed me the card was Willie Rouse.

Thanks to photojournalist Bobby Williams I learned a lot more about this fox hunt. It’s called Washington’s Day Fox Hunt and I reckon it was named so because it was held near the once Washington’s Birthday holiday. It’s been going on for 70-plus years and it doesn’t matter if it’s rainy and cold, the hunt will go on. (And it’s been raining a whole lot lately.)

Folks come out and enjoy breakfast and participate with their dogs in field trials. Then it’s time to eat again. (I figured out barbecue is important in all of North Carolina and such is the case in the Mount Olive area.) So there had to be barbecue cooked over wood and grilled chickens as well. Bobby says it’s the best anywhere.

But the thing that got my attention was the fish stew, “Willie Rouse’s famous fish stew.”

I asked Bobby by email, he has a full-time job doing something else, was the stew tomato based and did it have whole eggs? He answered in the affirmative and more or less sent me the recipe.

I have only had this fish stew during one period in my life. That’s when I was a student at then-Mount Olive College. It would be many years still before it became a university.

I thought the stew was the oddest thing — with whole eggs. Never seen anything like it. But I was ready to eat when I walked to the downtown campus to the cafeteria and tried it. It was good. I got it every time it was served.

After I graduated, I never saw or heard of it again. Well, I did once. It was featured on the Public Broadcasting Station’s “Chef’s Life” which basically celebrates eastern North Carolina ingredients.

And here I’ve seen it again.

I’m sorry I missed Willie Rouse’s famous fish stew. But I want to thank Bobby for bringing its existence to my attention.

On behalf of The Tribune, hats off to the Albertson Ruritans and the community for hosting this wonderful celebration that has brought so many people together for many years. May it last many more.

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