Hobo stew brings people together

Argen Duncan

I learned about hobo stew when I lived in Socorro and went to First Baptist Church there.

The congregation made the interesting stew every year.

Everybody brought a can of … whatever. It just had to be edible. It didn’t even have to come in a can. Everything from potatoes to enchilada sauce to fruit showed up.

Everything went into a caldron heated over a fire in the church courtyard. We had our bowls filled with whatever the ladle scooped up and brown broth.

We had skeptics who preferred to be elsewhere, but the stew is actually good. Maybe that many flavors just blend and eliminate clashes.

For dessert, three generations of the Harris family, alfalfa farmers from the tiny town of San Antonio, N.M., served fruit cobblers from huge Dutch ovens. I think they started the cobblers at home and finished them over fires in the courtyard.

The year I went, I ate with my friend Jenny and her young daughter Anah, and chatted with a woman I’d just met. Then I sampled the cobblers, all three as I recall.

Hobo stew night shows that with food, don’t discount the implausible. It’s also a memory of warm personalities and companionship.