A native of Oxford, Mississippi, one of Deke Baskin’s first jobs was washing dishes at a fraternity house on the campus of the University of Mississippi. There, Deke met a man by the name of Jack Johnson, who became his mentor and taught him how to cook. At the time, there was a fraternity tradition of cooking a whole hog on football weekends when Ole Miss would play Arkansas (their team mascot is a hog), and that’s how Deke learned to barbecue.
But Deke also grew up in a community that held large picnics to celebrate holidays and family reunions. A traditional food for these kinds of gatherings in north Mississippi was barbecued goat. As Deke became skilled at cooking hogs, he added goat to his repertoire.
Over the years, Deke has operated a series of restaurants in and around Oxford. His last place closed in about 2005. Deke is now retired, but his recipes live on in a self-published cookbook, Hush Yer Mouth, that includes a recipe for a poor man’s meal: boiled neck bones with spaghetti.
Date of interview:
September 10, 2007