I love spending time in the kitchen and have since I was a kiddo. Back when I was seven, I thought cooking for my large family standing on a stool next to my mom was a cool thing. In my teens I thought cooking for my even then bigger family and pealing ten pound bags of potatoes about three times a week was more like those Popeye cartoons when being in the Navy meant pealing piles and piles of never ending potatoes.
But I did keep holding onto my enjoyment of cooking.
I went to New York City at a very early…and broke…age. I lived in a models apartment and went one of the trips with only $40 bucks in my pocket. $40 in Manhattan does not get you very far. I remember my first grocery shopping trip and seeing that the cheapest bell pepper cost $3, this was back nearly twenty years ago (which having just done that math made me realize how fucking old I am now) I also was away from home and having come from the deep south and large family I made some comfort food for my first meal, macaroni and cheese and fried chicken. Not exactly models food. I had the could eat a dump truck load of food and not gain an ounce metabolism then, too. Sigh. So the southern young teenager with great metabolism in me just didn’t know better that in a house full of models and trying to make it on the fashion scene of Manhattan, home made macaroni & cheese with fried chicken wasn’t exacty ‘kosher’. But it does make a damn good comfort food for a little ninety eight pound at five feet nine inches girl who was in the big city rather than in the comfort of her books and horses in the country back home.
So after nearly having a heart attack at aged sixteen upon the price of New York foods, I carted my brown bags home and began my whirlwind through the kitchen. The smell soon whafting through my amazing New York models apartment which had an entire wall that was a window overlooking the city with a view of the brooklyn bridge.
Before I knew it these other waif exotic unicorns I lived with that I had only recently met and who all had accents from Russia, France, and Seattle at the time. These long legged creatures who wore magazine fashion on the daily, looking as if they stepped straight off the pages of Vogue even as they woke up. As a young girl just getting into all those fashion magazines I was a little bit in awe. The funny thing was, me being from Texas, I was as exotic to them as they were to me. And the fact that, yes, I did have horses back home, just added to it.
I remember the one from Moscow but born in Kahkistan, the exotic dark eye’d and haired beauty of our loft (we seriously had the red, blond and black hair thing going, and a brown headed one to add in) gliding in to our open kitchen-living area (she glided, that one, she totally had a glide about an inch above the ground) and ask what I was making, once she heard the answer she began going on and on in her deep Russian accent (and in her movie star style, everything she said was over-exhausterated) calling the others in and exclaming about how she had never had a southern meal and another kept calling it “authentic mac&cheese” and all of them looked comparable to the three drooling dogs I would have a decade later while watching me in the kitchen. I, being the southern gal I am, of course made enough to feed an army. I had just come from only knowing how to cook for a family of ten or gatherings of even more. Plus when you are southern you just feed people anyway, especially when they look as hungry as a stick skinny waif of a model who weighs under a hundred pounds at six feet tall can look. And hearing how exotic my southern food seemed to even the girl from Seattle, all beig under aged twenty and all far away from mothers and comforts of homes, how could I not feed them?
Over that meal was born from the group of girls the idea to add money to a jar to buy ingrediants for meals, when I would cook, I would make big meals for them and eat off of them, and anytime I cooked, not knowing how to tone down my large amounts, there was usually plenty for days for all of us out of each meal to be put away in the freezer….making my $40 turn into a season of feeding myself just fine before monies of other scources actually came in.
I wish that I had photos from that time. I had played tourists with my cheap little real film camera back then but have since lost all of the mostly undeveloped rolls of films through various moves, divorces, fires, and floods. But It is only one story among many involving food in my life.