Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Last Of A Dying Breed

I am convinced I'm one of the few twenty-something year old black women left in the world that can throw down in the kitchen like grandma and 'em used to do back in the day! Honestly, I can kick ass in the kitchen. However, I don't know too many twenty-something year old black women that can do it like me. Yes, some women can put together a meal using Hamburger Helper or some other "meal in a box," but these chicks cannot cook those old school Sunday, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners like our grandmothers did back in the day. In fact, some of them can't cook at all.

Yesterday evening I cooked a hen, some butter beans with okra, cornbread and a German chocolate cake. Yellow Bone came over and she was amazed by the meal I cooked. Yellow Bone is one of those Hamburger Helper chicks. She can cook up a box of Hamburger Helper like a professional and she actually thinks she doing big things cooking it too!

Yellow Bone is from Detroit, Michigan. So she's a city girl that happened to make her way south with the REVERSED great migration (referring to the influx of Northern Blacks currently migrating to the south...a region of the country their ancestors probably deserted way back when). Like most northern black women I've met, Yellow Bone is not very domestic at all. She keeps a clean house, but cooking ain't her thing. She actually told me that she never took an interest in cooking because she always knew she was going to be a corporate business woman. 

Me: So you can't be both a domesticated woman and a corporate business woman?

My question was met with silence. 

To be fair, I felt the same way as Yellow Bone as teenager. I always thought I would be the corporate business woman too focused on education and money to take an interest in cooking. Somebody in my life set me straight: My Grandmother. 

My grandmother not only FORCED me to learn how to cook, but she taught me how to fish, hunt,  garden and sew (manually and with a sewing machine). My grandmother is truly old school. She spent the bulk of her life waiting on white folks as the help (she was a domestic). She wasn't trying to hear my shit about an education and not having time to cook. She made me sit in the kitchen and watch her cook. Once I was tall enough and old enough to stand over the stove she sat down and watched me cook. She instructed me as needed. Soon it became my responsibility to cook dinner.

Looking back now I'm grateful for my upbringing in the rural south with my grandmother. Not only am I fairly cultured but I'm also self-sufficient in my home. I actually feel sorry for some of the northern blacks I've met who are 3-4 generations removed from their southern roots. They just don't know what they're missing.

Let me make one thing clear...

I don't particularly enjoy cooking. However, I do enjoy eating! So I cook when I feel like eating good. Cooking is a good skill to have because I will never be dependent on anyone else. I just think it's really sad that the old school soul food cooking black woman is a dying breed in my generation.
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