Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bow chicka Chow Chow!

Do you know what chow chow is?

No, not the dog with the blue tongue.

Chow chow is a tangy relish type of dish, mostly in the south, but also in Pennsylvania and New Mexico according to Wikipedia. It is a "pickled relish" but it is not "pickle relish". It is made from green tomatoes, cabbage, sweet & hot peppers, other veggies and the typical pickling agents. It is typically used as a condiment on things like hot dogs, bbq, and pinto beans.

My first experience with chow chow was when I stocked grocery aisles in Jacksonville, FL when I was 18 years old. There was this jar of nasty looking stuff with a yellow label and a "way too happy" guy's face plastered on it. Having that guy staring at you while you're working at 3 in the morning is kind of creepy.

I decided right then, "Ewwwww, I HATE chow chow."

Almost 25 years later at the Market Square Farmer's Market this past weekend, I had the chance to sample some chow chow at the booth for Sherie's Garden Style products, including her Hot Chow Chow. I managed to get over my long held bias and try it.

Wow, I stand corrected. I do like chow chow, especially hot chow chow. I bought two jars.

I had some on a grilled hot dog this weekend.

I put some on a pulled pork sandwich at lunch today. I didn't say it was pretty, but you wouldn't look at a king crab or lobster and say, "Dang, I just want to eat that!" would you? (Yes, sadly I took a picture of my leftovers lunch at work on a paper plate).

I tried it on pinto beans.

It has a sweet heat to it with a vinegar kick that I like. Being "garden style" it is a more rustic cut that adds a lot of texture to dishes. It reminds me of a spicy vinegar based slaw or maybe giardiniera. It's much more exciting than sauerkraut and it is kind of what I imagine kimchi would taste like. The thing I like about the hot chow chow is that she adds sweet, jalapeno, AND habanero peppers, a great combination.

I admit it is one of those things you will either LOVE or HATE. I just happened to find out that I am in the love camp.

If you live around here, you can get Sherie's Hot Chow Chow at the Market Square Farmer's Market on Saturdays (maybe on Wednesday's too, I never get down there then) for $5 for one jar, $9 for two. They also sell salsa but I haven't tried it yet. You can also order it online at Armadillo Pepper for $5.95 a jar. I found that site when I googled Sherie's products. They carry a bunch of interesting products, so even if you don't like the idea of chow chow, you might want to check them out.

Farmer's Market
Some other things I've been enjoying about our weekly trips to the Market Square Farmer's Market include

Farm fresh eggs, Locust Grove Farm's Cumberland Cheese (a peppery sheep's milk cheese, but their Manchego rocks too), and fresh baked cheddar jalapeno bread made the best breakfast sandwich.

Spending time with Alexis and Trevor hanging out in one of the best downtown environments I have ever visited. The only time I've been to downtown on a Saturday in any other city was to see a building get imploded.

The adjacent park is cool literally.....and figuratively....

Finding new things I haven't tried before like Black Seed Simpson Lettuce which is as pretty as green leaf but doesn't have the bitter edge that some more ornamental lettuces do. It rocked in a simple salad with avocado ranch dressing (make one 'recipe' of ranch dressing and blend with 1 peeled/seeded avocado & 1 Tb cayenne pepper in a blender for 1 minute).

The family environment, Trevor took this picture of a kid playing in the splash fountains in Market Square. I love seeing what he captures when he takes my camera for a few minutes.

We always have to pay a visit to Earth To Old City, one of the stores at Market Square with eclectic merchandise like this.

[Standard Disclaimer] applies as always but I don't know any of these folks and paid full price for anything I bought.

Wow. I've rambled on. Tell me something "bow chicka wow wow" about your favorite local market.


  1. Looks like a fun trip. It's hard to beat the goods you can find at Farmers Markets

  2. Ha! My parents made it and gave it away- I ate it on pinto beans and in soup, etc...this is a good omen for me today...

    I miss cool markets like that one, ours have better things later this month and July on...

  3. "Having that guy staring at you while you're working at 3 in the morning is kind of creepy." Exactly! I was a late nite stocker in a grocery store during college and so much of the food packaging turns creepy when you are sleep-deprived or on speed. Some of it looks downright evil!

  4. Ok, I want the cow on the wall. Really. I do. :) We make/eat chow chow all the time around here. It's like a staple at every meal.

  5. I love going to the farmer's market... so many interesting people and loads of great food. I've never tried chow chow but I imagine I would love it (although his face on the label is creepy).

  6. Don't you just love it when a closely held belief about a food you think you hate turns out to be wrong? I watched my avocado-hating 8 year old turn into a true member of the family earlier this week when he wasn't paying attention and downed some while eating a California roll.

    I've never even heard of chow chow before this; now I'm going to have to go find some.

  7. Yes, I know chow-chow and LOVE it on pinto beans. I haven't had that in years, so thanks for reminding me. I may make some with my leftover tomatoes at the end of the season. I also grow Simpson Black Seed lettuce. It's a happy crop up here.

    I used to start every Saturday at the farmer's market in California. The live music, food carts, and all the fresh flowers and veggies were such a great start to the weekend. We have a small market here, that meets twice a week. Maybe it will gather some steam with the better eating trends that are finally taking hold. Regardless, it's still a great way to kick off the weekend!

    Really great post, Chris!

  8. Oh how I love chow. I just wanted to tell you that the title of your post made me laugh and smile. :) Thanks.

  9. Here in Birmingham, there is a BBQ restaurant, Full Moon, that puts it on all of their sandwiches. I am not a big fan, but the people who love it say it's the best around!

  10. I loved this post, Chris! The farmer's market is a total joy during the warmer months. Your market looks like a lot of fun and it is very nice that you all go together as a family. I do like chow chow and yours looks fantastic. Love that you took the picture at work - LOL! Sounds like something I would do:)
    I love how my city has expanded their farmer's market and also love how it grows and changes every year. We now have lots of food vendors with local chefs making some great food. I love the idea of going there and being surprised by some new product or new ingredient. You never know what you will find. Ah, the element of surprise!

  11. Yeah I don't know if I could handle that smiling dude sitting in my fridge. Very eerie. He kind of makes me feel like I'm being violated.

    Chow chow sounds awesome. I love giardiniera and, well, pickled anything really.

    I love my farmer's market, from my walk down there to all of serious goods they have, going is such a great experience!

  12. Actually I think there's a vendor at our Farmer's Market that sells Chow Chow. Gotta give it a try. Aren't Farmer's Markets just the best??? That's a great photo that Trevor took.

  13. Something tells me you are going to make your version of chow chow soon...

  14. I love that the ocean is just blocks away and the markets are open year round here! Yours looks fantastic and yes I do like chow-chow.

  15. I bet that Chow Chow would be amazing on a deep fried hot dog. You have never had a hot dog, till you deep fried one.

  16. Never ever heard of chow chow! It looks like something I would love. Maybe on a shrimp taco? My current obsession...My fave market is the natural foods market by my house that carries local, organic fruits and veggies.

  17. Chow chow is easy. Try this. Boil a quart of white vinegar 5% acidity. Add 8 cups of sugar. Mix it up. Add 2 quarts mustard, 2 quarts ketchup, one quart white vinegar at room temp. Mix it up. Then add 5# finely diced cabbage, 1 1/2 # diced onion, 1 1/2# diced bell pepper, mix it up. If you want it like Full Moons, add about half a cup black pepper and as much cayenne pepper as you can handle. The more the cayenne, the hotter, so be careful. A quarter of a cup should suffice for this recipe. Hope this helps.


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