If Papaw happened to be looking down from heaven, I think he would have chuckled, too, but for a different reason than the CBS anchors. The CBS Morning Show repeated an amusing clip from Jimmy Kimmel’s show the night before. He got his laugh from his audience and the anchors by reporting China’s trade war threat to reduce their purchase of sorghum and then his guess as to what sorghum was. Gayle King, John Dickerson, and Alex Wagner knew no more than he did and could not google fast enough to get an answer.
This farmer’s granddaughter was mostly amused by their lack of knowledge of this common variety of molasses, at least if you come from North Mississippi. To be fair, a quick check of my computer thesaurus yielded no synonyms. The Merriam Webster on my desk gives three: (1) any of an economically important genus (Sorghum) of Old World tropical grasses similar to Indian corn in habit but with the spikelets in pairs as a hairy rachis; esp: any of various cultivars (as grain sorghum or sorgo) derived from a wild form, (2) syrup from the juice of a sorgo that resembles cane syrup, (3) something cloyingly sentimental.
My grandfather grew the cane to make the pungent syrup – definition 2. If we were lucky enough to visit at harvest time, he’d give us stalks of the plant so we could chew the sweet juices from it. After a trip to the sorghum mill with his load of cane and a cooking down of the thin syrup until it was thick and strong, he had an abundance and was set for the coming year with enough to share with friends and family.
A pitcher of sorghum molasses graced his table at every meal. Since he was a dairy farmer, he poured it over his hot buttered biscuits in the morning and finished his other meals with a treat of the syrup over his hot buttered cornbread.
I have no idea why China wants our sorghum in the first place, but I’m guessing they are going with definition 1. Nor can I fathom why this is such a dire threat. Did Papaw miss out on something profitable? You can do your own checking about a “hairy rachis” since this foray into the dictionary leads me to conclude that we may all be ignorant, just about different things.
All the same, I’m chucking with Papaw at knowledgeable people who don’t know what sorghum is.