One of my strangest experience in the Smokies occurred at Cataloochee River downstream form the valley. Rounding a bend while fishing, I came upon some two dozen Cherokee circled around a large pool. Most were waist deep, while at the edge of the creek older women tended kettles suspended over fires. The ones in the creek were catching crawdads, which they delivered to the women who were cooking the catch as it was delivered.
Walking up to the gathering, I was pretty much ignored, until the brother of a Cherokee friend of mine, Adam Thompson, recognized me. He greeted me and showed me crawdad cornmeal mush (Selu'sa Anista Tsisdvna) being cooked up. Its taste was reminiscent of a bland lobster Newburg. I was told that this was, among other things, a traditional Thanksgiving Day dish. Back in the 1980s Adam had often taken me into mountains to talk to tribal herbalists who spoke little or no English. Between them and Chief Two Tree at Black Mountain they knew their roots and leaves. It was always a treat.