The earliest occurrence of “slumgullion” recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary is from Mark Twain’s “Roughing It” in 1872 (”He poured for us a beverage which he called ‘Slumgullion’”), which Twain used in the then-current sense of “a weak or inferior drink.” In the 1880s, “slumgullion” was apparently also used to mean the watery refuse from processing whale blubber as well as the muddy sludge created by mining operations. The earliest use of the “stew” sense of “slumgullion” yet found dates to 1902 (Jack London, “Daughter of Snows”: “‘What do you happen to call it?’ ‘Slumgullion,’ she responded curtly, and thereafter the meal went on in silence”), and, given the earlier meanings of the word, that must have been seriously nasty stew.
So the root sense of “slumgullion” appears to boil down to “unappetizing liquid concoction,” which probably isn’t fair the stew recipe that’s been in the family ever since the railway man that had been courting my great-grandma was allegedly pushed down the well on the family property outside Hundred, West Virginia.
As family legend tells it, this was first cooked up my a hobo that her father had bumped into after the War (the Civil War) and had befriended. Every time I eat it, it fairly takes me away to another time and place. I wonder if it’ll do the same for you.
5 pork chops
5 large onions
3 green peppers
1 tin of tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1/3 lb of white rice
Brown chops and salt & pepper. Add diced onions, thinly sliced garlic, chopped peppers, tomatoes and juice. Cover and simmer for approximately one hour. Add rice and simmer for 45 minutes.