The Little Foxes in Sour Cream

If you want to see most of the burning issues of today expressed in a play written in 1939, you can go no further than The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman, acclaimed as the classic American drama. You have the rights of women, or, rather, lack of rights thereof, the plight of the so-called emancipated former slaves, the struggle of the exploited workers and the avarice of the wealthy capitalist bosses, even the environmental protection, and all of that in the sultry American South of the 1900’s. The title of the play is taken from Shir haShirim (The Song of Songs, widely known as The Song of Solomon), 2:15: “Seize for us foxes, the little foxes, that spoil our vineyard, for our vineyard has just become to blossom.”

Regina, the main character, is born into a wealthy family, yet, when her brothers manage to parlay their inheritance into independent fortunes, she, according to the law, is not allowed to control her part of it, since only men are considered legal heirs. She is reduced to manipulating her weak-willed, sickly, and somewhat not very intelligent husband to achieve her goals. Gradually, she turns from a disenfranchised southern belle into a ruthless predator who is willing to sacrifice her daughter’s happiness to her own boundless greed. The inimitable Bette Davis portrays this transformation in a tragic scene where Regina watches her husband die of heart attack without making an effort to help him:

Hellman herself has indicated that the little foxes metaphor represents Regina’s family, the Hubbards, whose insatiable avarice spoils the beautiful South of her Alabama childhood and youth. Regina and her brothers are modeled after Hellman’s own relatives, especially her maternal grandmother. Yet the metaphor also pertains to the character of Regina herself, transformed by circumstances and family environment from a blossoming vineyard to a money-hungry beast.

Lillian Hellman herself wrote the screenplay for this 1941 film which collected more awards than any other one in the history of Oscars. She did not write a libretto for Marc Blitzstein’s opera Regina, based on the play, but commented favorably, “… yet the bite and power of the music comments on the people in a wonderfully witty way, and the sad sweetness of the music for the “good characters” makes them better.” The good characters include, besides Regina’s hapless husband, her daughter Alexandra, who is being forced to marry her first cousin Leo, in order for Regina and her brothers to consolidate family capitals for building a cotton mill. Alexandra rebels, and both her father and her aunt Birdie, also a good character, albeit an alcoholic, support her. Another good character is the “emancipated” Black servant Addie who is treating Alexandra with love and caring, contrary to the girl’s mother Regina. Here is the famous Rain Quarter from the opera, showcasing all four “good characters”:

Reprising the title metaphor, Alexandra declares to her mother that she will not watch her be “the one who eats the earth.” Having achieved her goal of being wealthy, Regina loses the affection of her daughter, buries her husband, and alienates her brothers. At the end, the fox is alone.

Chanterelles Cantharellus cibarius MUSHROOM Mycelium 10.000 + fresh Spores .....

What does this celebrated play have to do with my recipe? The title, Beautiful People! Cantharellus Cibarius, or Golden Chanterelle, are called in Russian Little Foxes, and for more than 40 years in the US I have been kvetching (complaining) that I remember the taste of the Little Foxes in sour cream on the bed of fried potatoes but can’t find similar mushrooms here. No wonder – they don’t grow in the tropics, and to order them from somewhere, I had to know the name which I didn’t. Until one day, that is, when my husband ventured into a new huge Chinese emporium called China City that features an impressive assortment of extremely reasonably priced fresh fish, all kinds of exotic fresh and dried fruit and vegetables, and – mushrooms! Having heard from me for years about the soft flesh and delicate taste of the Little Foxes, he bought two different little packages of mushrooms, having determined the softness by squeezing them.

If any of my dear blogofriends can tell me what they are called, I will be grateful, but you can see, Beautiful People that they do not look like Chanterelle, or Little Foxes. I did not want to disappoint the Boss, who was very proud of his discovery, so this is what I did:

The result was delectable. I have since replicated my experiment with oyster mushrooms, with the same delicious result. All you have to do, Beautiful People, is sauté onions and garlic, add mushrooms, sauté for a few minutes, add dry white wine and a couple of tablespoons of real or fake sour cream, season with salt and pepper, and leave it simmering while you fry potatoes. The original recipe calls for regular potatoes but I use sweet potatoes as much less hypoglycemic. Serve Little Foxes on the bed of potatoes, garnish with fresh chopped cilantro, don’t forget a glass of chilled wine, preferably the same you have used for cooking, and feel so much more satisfied than outrageously wealthy Regina Hubbard.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups of Golden Chanterelle mushrooms or any other soft mushrooms

1/2 onion, sliced

2 – 3 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons of sour cream or substitute

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped fresh cilantro to garnish

2 large potatoes or sweet potatoes

PROCEDURE

Sauté onions and garlic until soft and translucent.

Add mushrooms, cut into bite size pieces, sauté together for a few minutes, until mushrooms are almost ready.

Add wine and sour cream, season with salt and pepper, stir, reduce heat to simmering.

Fry potatoes in bite size slices.

Serve mushrooms on the bed of potatoes, garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy!

78 Comments Add yours

  1. Narine says:

    Creative approach 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Narine.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Dolly for the details.
    Enjoyed reading

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Philo.

      Like

  3. Marlapaige says:

    Thank you for the Bette Davis clips. I do love her!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My pleasure, darling; I am pleased.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Marlapaige says:

        I love when she plays dark like that. Her and Joan, I know they supposedly hated each other, but I love them both, and “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” was sheer brilliance!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Marlapaige says:

        Thank you for understanding my darker side lol

        Liked by 1 person

      3. One ‘darker side’ understands the other.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, David. Your mother would probably know ‘лисички’ mushrooms.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. of course, and my wife knows them too – we buy them at our local Russian store sometimes!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Do you buy them fresh or dried? We have several Russian stores, but they don’t carry these.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I checked with my wife, and she corrected my American ignorance – there are lots of different mushrooms at our local Russian store(s), which we have bought on various occasions, but apparently they don’t have this kind of mushroom – I only thought they did because my wife has brought this type of mushroom up in conversation before and I got confused… I didn’t grow up picking mushrooms in the forest look some other people 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I also don’t know much, other than cooking them. I am an Odessa girl, and we only had dried mushrooms brought from the Baltics by visiting relatives. We had the Little Foxes stew often during the four years that my parents and I spent in the Baltic region. I vaguely remember a school field trip picking mushrooms. I was in 4th grade, I think. I don’t recall what I actually picked, edible or not, but definitely not Little Foxes.

        Like

  4. Hi Dolly! The mushroom your husband found at the Chinese market is known in Japan as maitake (pronounced phonetically, like all Japanese words: my-tah-keh). It’s not only tasty, it supposedly has medicinal qualities as well. My former landlady, who suffered from crippling back pain, went to a traditional Chinese herbalist for help. He created a compound of maitake and some other dried plants and fungi and told her to make a broth out of it, then drink it daily. I don’t know if it actually helped her, but there has been research that might prove that maitake does help with a variety of physical ailments.
    https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/maitake-mushroom#research

    I honestly would not use them as a substitute for modern medications recommended by a doctor, but it can’t hurt to use them in your lovely dish. I’m partial to morel mushrooms myself, but they’re nearly impossible to find in dry, alpine California. Thank you for posting your recipe!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend! I truly appreciate the link and your informative explanation.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful post. Really enjoyed this. I remember the film.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Shay!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Defo my kind of post. Films, books, recipes, and a very good analysis.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are so very kind, darling.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I call it like I see it. You know I am a huge fan of old movies.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I didn’t, but now I do. I am too.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Bette was epic so she was.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I have a few very aged books about her actually. OOH

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I have a lot of books on old Holywood. You don’t get them very much now at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Lucky you! I suppose it is similar to the fact that I have a lot of books on old Russian theater, directors, and actors.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Wow. I bet you ahve some wonderful books.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Yeah, and about 3/4 of them were stolen when shipped from Russia. Still, our little apartment is wall-to-wall books in different languages. They seem to multiply when we leave them in the dark overnight.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. You would get on awfully well with my husband, For many years he rana home for old books……….

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Oh yes! But it also brings out a memory of leaving all my old books (those published before the communist regime took over), as well as my art collection behind, as we were not allowed to take both out of the country.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Dolly, that must have been awful. End of. O mean mine are of sticking ancient crumbling library books he brought home as a matter of course out to the bin cos there was no room and as we drove home seeing the bins had not been collected….necessitating a leap from the car and i need the loo at nine months pregnant, after sweating a bit thinking What do I do here? as the car rounded the last corner. And in my fancy big coat which i had got from someone–we had no money in these days — sweeping that pile up under it and leaping down stairs, into the small loo and bolting the door, thinking NOW WHAT? But that is daft stuff—-, as was when we moved here and 7 years back and there were wrestling matches over how many copies of Tom Sawyer did he need? —compared to what you said there. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      14. What a story! The only better one I know is a young lady giving birth in the passenger seat with her mother (my friend) the obstetrician giving her instructions while driving to the hospital, arriving there already with the baby born.

        Like

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging, dear Edward.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. GP says:

    Sounds delicious!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, GP!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. BERNADETTE says:

    I never saw this movie but it sounds like it illustrated the downside of greed very graphically. Mushrooms and potatoes were a staple of my diet when I was single and living alone. This recipe was made for me. Thanks for the interesting post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Bernadette,
      And before I forget, here is the promised link to my Chanukkah post for your holiday edition:
      https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2020/12/06/but-hannah-did-not-have-potatoes-latkes-with-a-tropical-twist-5
      I hope you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. BERNADETTE says:

        Thank you so much. It is fantastic.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am so pleased you like it, darling!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Garfield Hug says:

    Looks like Shimeji brown mushrooms.or Kirei Maitake mushrooms. These are sold in Singapore alongside King Oyster mushrooms, Enoki mushrooms. Sauteed with butter or with oyster sauce without adding water (mushrooms gives out water).

    They are great in hotpots or steam boats or soups with chinese cabbage.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, sweetheart! I knew you would set me straight. 😻

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Garfield Hug says:

        Haha! I love mushrooms!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. 15andmeowing says:

    I live in the USA, in Massachusetts. My hubby actually found some chanterelles this year and so many other kinds of edible mushrooms. I will save this recipe with the hope he finds more next summer. The weather was perfect for mushrooms this year -wet and hot.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My older son also lives in Massachusetts but he has never gone mushroom hunting. I am so pleased you like the recipe, darling!

      Like

  10. I hope you find just the right chanterelles for your recipe! If you were my neighbor, I’ll look for some of our local ones for your dish!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much dear Dorothy, but the dish comes out great with those Chinese mushrooms. They are delicious!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Chanterelle mushrooms are a favorite of mine, so I’m all sold on this lovely dish! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Ronit. Your comment means a lot to me.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. lghiggins says:

    “Little Foxes”–that makes quite the story of greed and the damage it causes. What a great tie-in to your recipe though.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Linda, for your kind comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. My husband was a sous chef years ago, and someone came to let the head chef try mushrooms he’d grown in a secret location out in the swamps of south Louisiana. He called them Chanterelles, they looked like little yellow flowers.

    Showing him this picture, he says these look just like what that man grew, but the man charged $80/lb back in the early 1980’s.

    When i asked my husband if the guy is still around and growing them, he has no clue, as he’s been out of the business for a while, but you might look and see if they are available.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for stopping by and for sharing, dear Mimi. As I have written in my post, Chanterelles do not grow in tropics and the prices of online orders are outrageous. Oyster mushrooms also work for this recipe, if you can get them.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. What a chilling story aptly applied

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Derrick.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. purpleslob says:

    She watched him DIE???? I can’t even think about the recipe, I can’t get over her evil!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The recipe is designed to make you feel better after an encounter with such an evil person. And think about it – she is modeled after a real grandmother!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. purpleslob says:

        That is so awful!! I would have felt better with your food, for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I remember seeing this play in Russia and thinking that it was the Russians who exaggerated the greed and sheer evilness of Americans. I couldn’t believe that it was actually true, but it was!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Jermena says:

    That was quite a read… Thank you☺️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for a lovely comment, dear Jermena! 😻

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jermena says:

        ❤️❤️❤️☺️

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Lulu: “Wait, wait, what do the little foxes do to the vineyard? It’s not like they eat grapes, right? Or do they? Should I be eating grapes?”
    Charlee: “No, you most definitely should NOT be eating grapes.”
    Lulu: “Oh, okay, good. I thought maybe I was missing out on something by not eating grapes.”
    Chaplin: “Nope, just a visit to the vet if you did.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Charlee is right, Lulu girl! You shouldn’t be eating grapes, and neither did the foxes. They spoiled the earth, nasty creatures.
      Meows and Purrs from The Cat Gang.

      Like

  18. Americaoncoffee says:

    I love Your film clip choices! I love your review, history, and tie-ins with food servings. What a cozy share.💞 Warming hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for a lovely comment, darling! 😻

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Americaoncoffee says:

        You are welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I recall Bette Davis’ performance in “The Little Foxes” (not a play I ever enjoyed). The aroma of this recipe, however, wafts off the page. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Anna. To me, it is the nostalgic aroma of my childhood.

      Liked by 1 person

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