What does it mean?

Potlicker Pot-likker Pot-licker Pot-liquor

Potlicker is a word that is not often heard outside the American South.  Seeing that the word rarely shows up in a dictionary, it could mean many things. As a regional term of the southern kitchen, it usually refers to something made yummy with pork fat. In the book You Eat What You Are by Barer-Stein, Pot-likker is “a treat of melted salt pork poured over bread or cooked greens.”  I, personally, am thinking the leftover food scrapings from the bottom of the pan, when it has turned rich and mellow. It is slightly greasy and thick like butter but flavored like a creamy decadent reduction of the last meal you made. A meal that probably had pork fat. The marrow of the meal!  Potlicker butter on bread! Heaven!

When potlicker does show up in the dictionary, it generally refers to ones social status, especially to ones status of being poor and/or starving. As in, if you were poor you would “lick the bottom of the pot” for all of the scraps and leftovers to make sure to get the most out of it and thus, those who were poor were Pot Lickers. Licking the pot sounds like living life to the fullest to me!

It can also refer to:

a. the tasty juices left at the bottom of a pot after something has stewed (this more like pot-‘liquor’) b. the cook or kitchen help who serve people and always eat last (therefore a potlicker). c. a mutt of a dog or person. d. someone who pushes another from a fishing spot (I’d bet that is another Southern Phrase).

Even better:

Something can be downright potlick’n good!

More about thePotlicker’s Kitchen

5 responses to “Potlicker??

  1. I learned this term from a old rail road man who told me that it referred to bedpots and if you were a potlicker you licked bed pots. That’s what I was told.

    • Bed pot, eh? Just another unfortunate way to insult someone’s social status. It is often not what you say but how you say it. I like to think that we can reclaim the meaning of a word. To make sacred what was once profane.

  2. The Jackson House Inn of Woodstock VT featured 2 new beer jellies at breakfast this morning! In the spirit of fall – our guests taste tested a Pumpkin Ale & Oatmeal Stout jelly with house-made currant scones. We often heard the following descriptions – “brilliant, really yummy, holy smokes this is way cool” And our guest favorite of the day . . . .Oatmeal Stout was a hands-down winner! Kudos to the Potlicker team – way cool!

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