Last week I pulled out all of the books written by Maya Angelou from my bookcase. It was my way of honoring one of the legends of our time. I read some of her poetry, the highlighted lines with my notes in her memoirs. I ended up rereading Hallelujah! The Welcome Table; A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes. I love to cook and I love read. It was delightful to pour a glass of wine, as she describes doing while she cooks, read the stories and make a couple of the recipes. I find cooking so relaxing, it is a very here and now experience where the internal dialogue moves into the background and slicing, dicing and sautéing are meditation.
Dr. Angelou beautifully weaves together stories and the recipes that formed some her lasting memories. The stories in each segment are brief, touching and often funny. The first half of the book is dedicated to family stories and recipes of her beloved grandmother, mother and her brother. The second half of the book shares stories of her life and travels along with her recipes and those of her friends. Imagine being at her table with her writer and celebrity friends, it’s fascinating.
I have tried some of the recipes finding them straightforward and easy. Happily the results of my efforts with her recipes have garnered complements to the cook. The stories fed my spirit and the recipes fed those at my welcome table. This might not be testimony enough for some of you, perhaps the following testimony is more compelling. Dr. Angelou has said, “I am a cook. And I consider myself a serious cook. I know someone who interviewed me thought she was flattering me by calling me a chef. I’m not a chef; I am a very serious cook. I have knowledge of and great respect for ingredients, and understand how they react.” Her friend Toni Morrison said “And trust me, Maya can cook.”