One Sunday morning in 1981, I came home from church and my soul was on fire. Not because anything exceptional had transpired during the 10:30 service, but because of the way my house smelled when I walked in the side door. My dad was making Indian dishes for the first time. Whatever was happening in that kitchen was weird and wild, and it twined into all my senses, drawing me toward the simmering pot and away from everything else I'd understood as food in my nine years on Earth thus far.
My mother had made most of our meals up to that point — dutifully, methodically and not unkindly, but as a means to an end, getting her husband and two daughters fed. Though she cares greatly for the communion of the dinner table, the artistry of its contents doesn’t especially concern her. It’s not a failing on her part at all — just a seed that had neither been planted nor encouraged to bloom by first-generation American parents who were grateful to have anything to eat at all.
There are days Molly Schuyler eats little or nothing at all.
Most days she eats leftovers off the plates of her four children and a salad or two.
And then there are days when she eats a 72-ounce steak, shrimp cocktail, salad, a baked potato and a roll in less than five minutes. And then for "dessert," she does it once more, in nine minutes.
Editor's note: Nikki Giovanni is a poet, writer, and a professor at Virginia Tech. Her latest work is "Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid." Here, she remembers her dear friend, writer and activist Maya Angelou, who died Wednesday at age 86.
Our only disagreements were about food.
She was a great cook, and I think of myself as a good one. We were arguing about rack of lamb, one of my specialties. My recipe comes from the late, great country cook Edna Lewis. I went home after my visit and decided I should not just talk the talk but also walk the walk.
I called my good friend Joanne Gabbin from Furious Flower Poetry Center to have her come with me to Doc's to cook. Jo is a great cook, too. We got on Doc's calendar, packed all our ingredients and spices and boogied on down.