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'Hidden Kitchens' Calling

Hundreds of listeners called in from points across America to share their food stories
Hundreds of listeners called in from points across America to share their food stories

Chickens are roasted in welding-rod ovens in a working shipyard. All-night burgoo (a spicy stew of meats and vegetables) simmers over campfires in Kentucky, just as it did more than 100 years ago. A cook for NASCAR calls from the racetrack to tell about his world. A man makes pralines in the makeshift kitchen of his Louisiana prison cell.

Hundreds of listeners called the Hidden Kitchens hotline, responding to our quest for stories of neighborhood kitchen traditions and local kitchen visionaries.

Our "Curator of the Quest," Jay Allison, presents an array of messages from around the country to launch this new Morning Edition series.

In the course of producing this segment, Allison found a hidden part of his own family's story:

"Speaking of turtles, my mother told me that my great grandfather, who was governor of Delaware, kept terrapin turtles in the basement of the governor's mansion as the main ingredient for their fashionable Terrapin Soup.

"Before state dinners, the cooking staff would go into the basement to turn over the requisite number of turtles on their backs for a few days to soften the meat. Not exactly a 'blood feast,' but kind of hidden and creepy."

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