The Brunswick Stew Battle

In Georgia, we take pride in our food. We have the world-famous Vidalia onions, so sweet you can eat them like an apple. We produce more peanuts than any state in the US just ask that Georgia peanut farmer turned US President, Jimmy Carter. Even our state motto is about food, but blueberries have now topped peaches as our number one fruit crop. When it comes to barbeque, Georgia prides itself as the home of Brunswick Stew. Everyone who cooks it does it just a little bit different to put their own signature on it. It starts with your choices of meat, crushed tomatoes, corn then it goes from there. It could be lima beans, onions, taters, okra, all of the above or something else. But the real mystery isn’t the recipe, it’s where Brunswick Stew began.

According to the Georgia story, it all started in our southernmost port town of Brunswick. To commemorate the culinary history, there’s a big, old 25-gallon black pot monument that claims to be the cauldron that cooked the first Brunswick Stew on St. Simons Isle in July 2, 1898. However, the folks up in Brunswick County, Virginia disagree. They claim their Brunswick Stew goes further back to 1828 when after a hunting expedition, a camp cook simmered up some squirrels with butter, onions, seasoning and stale bread. Not only did Virginia make it official with a state proclamation, they also put up a historical marker. Georgia didn’t take this claim lying down. The Georgia House of Representatives passed their proclamation recognizing Brunswick, Georgia as the birthplace of Brunswick Stew. To affirm the resolution, Brad Brown, the former Mayor of Brunswick, Georgia, revealed recipe documents dated 1728 in a film by Stan Woodward named “Brunswick Stew”.

Not only are there birthplace bragging rights, there’s also the battle over who’s stew is best. Virginia’s stew is thicker. They say it’s ready when a boat paddle used to stir can stand up in it. Georgia’s stew is often soupier and chunkier. When it comes to taste, well that’s why they have cook-off’s. Some of the most prestigious stew wars are Virginia’s Taste of Brunswick and Georgia’s Brunswick Rockin’ Stewbille. But after all the folklore bickering and culinary grandstanding, there’s one thing in which both states can, nothing brings a community together like a big, old pot of Brunswick Stew.