favorite foods? how is this made? what's in that? how to prepare? the origin and market of? are you a gourmet? or a gourmand? fine dining? so you want to be a gourmet? mamma cooked? new afrikan world cusine? pasport to healthy eating! O.K. Beloved, here's a little sump'm sump'm i've been playing around with. a short story. JOOP A somewhat fictious tale of taste buds from up on high. Mama was an exceedingly great chef. We were quite poor in the rural West Virginia autumn of 1937, but my stomach knew nothing of it. It is this sweet, savory, and loving memory, of mama’s spirit, grace, and beauty, and of her overwhelming talent in the kitchen, that was curried in my adult life into the knowledge that she had actually pro-offered to trade her knowledge with her neighbors, relatives, and friends, for a frequently disregarded, often quietly whispered bottom pot indiscretion. These were the common ‘drippings from the pan’, and she taught us that this is where the entire flavor resides, from meals sometimes improperly prepared. Invariably, she would take the results of the lack of skill of the many people she mentored about food and cooking, only to transform it into a notoriously delicious, and eagerly anticipated, new meal for her family. It became a baked rice dish, with savory kale, quietly minced caramelized lilies, and usually beans, served infrequently with a variety of meats and gravy, sautéed vegetables with hearty sweet breads, or delicate yeast rolls. It was a holiday of love, and we called it Joop. Many a potential chef came to mentor at my mother’s door. During her lifetime, she must have worked as a cook, for a dozen rural rich White families, and papa kept up every harvest, to cloth and educate his huge tight-knit family of six boys, and five girls. My father’s voracity and skill as a sharecropper, meant an abundance of food cleverly passed beyond the knowledge of a venal, condescending and often rather deceitful landlord. Under many an early August moon, we would return a piece of the harvest to the earth, and papa had us four boys diligently at work, behind the house at night, in mamas bountiful garden, often out there, two and four in the morning, pulling up the earth, and digging graves, some huge enough to carry a casket. Here, we would bury some of his diligent labor. Momma would wrap bundles of the harvest in heavy burlap, and together, under the witness of a quiet southern summer sky, papa would nurture his sons to the ways of the world, and we would pave a healthy nutritious winter for our family. His energy and determination to feed cloth, and educate his family, only grew immensely stronger on the morning that they found the charred body of Samuel Nell, a father of four, dangling from a tree, in hopeless surrender, but two miles outside the county line. His body, morbidly absent of numerous treasured limbs, which now hung like trinkets in the homes of many. We received a postcard that very same morning, full of White faces, men women and children, laughing, their faces electrically charged as if in a bizarre sexual glee, it read: “We had a picnic last night, wish you were here!” Papa secured our home. After dinner, mama sat all eleven of us, from four to eighteen years of age, down around her feet, and she told us that this life would surely be a bit hard for us, because although this virus remained unchecked, all White people were really not like this. She implored us to be diligent and to be prudent in our lives. We were sharecroppers, and we definitely were poor, but I’ve never known of a family that ate better than we did. During late summer, mama would organize her factory of six women together, and they would fill her pantry with canned fruits and vegetables, chutneys, and mouth-watering preserves. We would have baskets of bread in the center of the dinner table, topped with a dollop of freshly made sweet potato butter. During those very times when the family as a unit, seemed to grow together discouraged, we would have Joop. Her most enthusiastic apprentice, I would watch her, as she gave life to some thick and syrupy marsh of food sediment, carefully scraped from the bottom of someone else’s pan. She would carefully remove any charred sediment, and put these small chips back into the stock. A slowly caramelizing mirepoix, three parts onion, and one part each of carrot and celery, topped with braised bones of meat, and a bouquet garni of cracked peppercorns, fresh parsley, bay leaf, and thyme. Over this, ice-cold water would come to a slow rolling boil, and then cooled down to a quiet reflective simmer. Often for hours, she would use this same ‘fume’, sometimes distinctly flavored with tomato, mushroom, or maybe roasted garlic, as a poaching liquid, for other parts of the feast; sentencing it thereafter, two parts to the whole, strained over the rice, in a clay earthen dish. Sometimes she would immediately put the bounty of meats and fresh vegetables and tomatoes, directly into the rice in a 400-degree oven, until it devoured all of its liquid, at other times, she would just toss them all together at the end.. After turning off the oven, mama would take her long fork and fluff the rice before covering it for seven minutes again. No matter what her audience, it was often at this time, as she hovered over her stove, that mama would quietly draw a long breath of air into her nose, and hurrying those aromas along with the wave of her hand, mama would look inquisitively into the rice pot, and no matter how often we heard it, as if in possession of a secret beholden to all, momma would quietly tell us, that she was going to go back, and get some of our Ancestors, and bring them into the house.