Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Soul Food: Cornbread, Mack, And Me

I wanted to share with you guys a little of my family life. Over the weekend, my family got together for a little reunion. My uncles, Mack and Carlton decided that the family doesn’t get together enough so they invited everyone over for some good ol' southern cooking. I’m talking they roasted half of a hog. You ever heard of a “pig picking?” I realize this may be disgusting to some, but some of y’all out there know exactly what I’m talking about. Yeah, Soul food!

There was corn on the cob, mac and cheese, cornbread, fried chicken, grilled chicken, ribs, string beans, collard greens, pasta salad, and baked beans with strips of bacon across the top! Haa haa!! I mean a real trip to the doctor, but it was so delicious! Oh, and you can't live in the DC/Maryland area without trying some of the Chesapeake Bay's finest crustaceans! Yes, Crabs!

This was also a chance for the family to meet my wife because I was just married at the end of 2005. They loved her and they loved the South African dish she fixed for the occasion. I learned some things about me as well at this family gathering. One of my younger cousins who attends FAMU (Florida A& M University) wanted some advice on what books to read. I suggested Aimé Césaire's book, Discourse On Colonialism. There was also a moment when we were all sitting in the family room just catching up. We were having discussions about current events and various topics. This sparked conversations about black history and culture. They started asking me questions and I gave my 2 cent. If I didn't know the answer they were surprised! In other words, I have a reputation of being the family smart guy. I honestly don’t know how I got this reputation? Perhaps some of the family are speaking well of me. Nevertheless, I like the reputation because I love to talk about history and culture. It’s the reason I first went into teaching. I was also told that I was a man who loves his family whether we’ve met or not. This is true. I've met more than a couple of cousins I’ve never met before and I embraced them instantly. It might be a different story if I had to live with them, but the love is there upon initial contact.

Overall, it was good to see everyone. I hope that you all get a chance to see and get together with your family this Summer. If you haven’t then maybe you should be the one to get everyone together. Peace and enjoy the rest of this Summer. It’ll be over before you know it.


Crystal said...

Hi Stephen! That food looks really delicious, my family is originally from Arkansas and so I do know a thing or two about soul food. It's great that your family has you for a source to obtain information on black history/culture, there is so much than can be learned from knowing the past. For example, I recently learned that out of 11 million slaves that came across the Atlantic, only 500,000 went to North America. And so African-Americans are just a tiny tiny bit of the African Diaspora, and many more millions of slaves went on the Indian Ocean Route to The Middle East. When I was in Zanzibar I toured the slave holding chambers and learned about stuff I'd never knew before. Interesting stuff...

MJW said...


I love to talk about history and culture too. :-) Although you probably guessed.

Anonymous said...

Yummy! You're making me hungry! But...I can do without the crabs!! EWWWW!! lol =)

Ananda said...

oooohhh it all looks so good, brothalove bess. especially the crabs ... i went with the food first cuz' it is almost lunch time. i love how you love your family ... it makes me say that brothalove bess is such a family man. that is so beautiful. you good people. straight from nc good dirt ... and i am so hyped about my own family's mini reunion in a few weeks. i am gonna do my best to get these old photos copied or at least scanned so folks can have copies of our great grands and uncles and aunts .... much paz and luz to you, ananda

Stephen A. Bess said...

Thank you and welcome. We needed you on Saturday during our discussion. :) Thanks for that info. I hope that all read it.

Yes, I figured that out on your first visit. :)

I love crabs, but I dislike the mess.

Haa haa!! "nc good dirt" I like that. Yeah, I can't deny the Carolinas. Thanks! :)

black feline said...

Since Grandma died 10 yrs ago...never the same again...siblings hardly meet..i really envy the bonding in your family...

Stephen A. Bess said...

I pray that changes for you and your family.
My family doesn't get together enough. It's good to do because it teaches the younger members the importance of family bonding. We really don't know each other like we should. Our friends know us better.

Anonymous said...

Yumm! looks scrumpteous :) No Crabs for me, but I sure can clean out that Table for you. Your family sounds very tight :) Is this both your maternal and paternal families? What did your wife cook, anything ethnic and spicy?? :)

Stephen A. Bess said...

this was mostly my paternal side. My wife fixed one of my favorites. It was (Afrikaner)Dutch sausage smothered with onions, peppers, and all kinds of spices like coriander and I think I tasted some garlic. :)

Anonymous said...

I am confused(Not that it makes any difference)is your wife Afrikaner? I don't mean to make you uncomfortable -:)

Anonymous said...

Check my blog out!! =)


Lori Stewart Weidert said...

Um. Yes. I vote for a Soul-food blog party at your house. All in favor...

The food looks amazing, and the photography of which is not to be overlooked. Beautiful pictures.

And maybe I WILL call the ancestors together in the autumn; it HAS been a few years. Thanks for giving me a lot to think about.

Stephen A. Bess said...

No problem at all. My wife is a native black South African. The cuisine in South Africa is influenced by all the people of that country. There is a great deal of influence from India. She cooks just about everything with curry and don't get me started on the Mango Achar. :)

you're welcome and thanks for stopping in. I wish that I could accomodate a party like that. :)

Toastedsuzy said...

I put something mean and stupid up on my little blog a while ago, but then I came and read your blog (again--I've been reading for a bit) and I went and took it down again.

You are very cool. I want to be like you.

I want to cook like your wife cooks--I love curry.

Alas, it is usually frozen dinners for this chicky.


Stephen A. Bess said...

Thanks for the love. Now, I'm wondering what you put on your blog?? I'm just nosy. :)
I haven't had a frozen dinner since 198? something. :) Thanks for checking me out and remember to just do you. Peace~

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephen! That food looks great! It's making my mouth water and tummy grumble. And the companionship and love with your family... that is priceless! I have a VERY close immediate family, but not so much the extended family. Well, there is not a lot of them...But I cannot complain, my immediate family is closer than most people's are! I hope all is well for you and your family!

Dance_Soul said...

Mmmmmm. You knew what you were doing when you put that picture up there. MAKING ME HUNGRY. It sho does look scrumptious. I went to my ex's family reunion a couple weeks ago and almost bit my lip off - the food was so good. Thanks for sharing.
BTW - I didn't know that you were a newlywed - a congrats is in order. I'm sure that your family loved your wife - you seem like you know good people when you see 'em. So I'm sure she is GREAT person.

credo said...

Oh the food. I spent half a day in BWI, watching the folks, yesterday. I arrived to help celebrate my daughter's birthday, she has a dinner party planned for tommorrow.

Of course, I cook when I am here, stuff like in the picture, soul food. She uses the creole spices and is learning to cook real soul food. Before, I lived with her in Virgina for a year. Before, I went back to my hometown, she and one of her friends shared the crab experience, the brown bag, getting the meat and the green stuff.

She is big on family, something that I passed on to her, I pray she holds on to it. She sleeps now from her long day at work, mother's here and everything is right with the world.

Peace to you and yours.

nosthegametoo said...

My goodness... looks like you have some people around you that can really cook.

Thanks for sharing. Always nice to be with family...


Professor Zero said...

Omigod the food! We don't have crabs like that here. Go nerds! :-)

Stephen A. Bess said...

Long time! I hope that your Summer is going well. God bless you and your family.

I thought that you might like the picture of the food. :) Yes, my wife is a great person. She's my best friend and people love her. My family absolutely adores her. Thanks.

That's a beautiful thing that you passed down. Yeah, you know that momma makes everything alright. Thanks and peace to you and yours as well.

I know...mostly. :) Thanks.

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome.

Stephen A. Bess said...

I'm sorry to tease so early in the day. :)
Thanks for coming by.

Cergie said...

Coucou, Stephen, I'm Cergie,
Happy to meet you on my blog and then here on yours.
Your picture are so neat and colorful !

Stephen is the English and German translation of Etienne which is my son's and my father's christian name.
In Spanish: Esteban.

The importance of language, the importance of a same name sounding different !
Such a beautiful name !

Stephen A. Bess said...

Hello! Thanks for stopping by. I've never had anyone explain my name like that. Thank you! I agree that language is important and beautiful! Peace~

NML/Natalie said...

I am practically salivating after reading this. You don't get crabs like that over here! Oh you made my brain and mouth water just reading this!

Stephen A. Bess said...

lol! Yeah, nothing like Chesapeake Bay Crabs. They are a real favorite during the Summer here in DC/Maryland. I'm getting hungry all over again looking at the picture too. :)

Friday Dialogue said...

Is that 'Old Bay' on them crabs? West Coast crabs don't come close to the ones from the Chesapeake.

I'm gonna have to check out Aime Cesaire.

Lyrically speaking said...

The food looks soooooooooo delish, I've never head of pig pickin', this is a great post

Michelle said...

thanks for sharing your special family reunion with us. I love getting together with my family and hearing the tales of the olden days. I've learned so much from the older generations about life on farms, life during the civil rights movement and living and forgiving...thank God for family...and all that they pass down.

Glad you got your eat on -- I am too jealous -- I haven't eaten like that in awhile!

Rose said...

Stephen this is so wonderful to tease us with good eats and family togetherness. The food looks too good. Those are some huge crabs-
but its' wonderful that you shared this....now I'm hungry...

Stephen A. Bess said...

Cant'beat the Bay or Oldbay seasoning. :) Yes, let me know what you think of Cesaire.

Thanks! There's nothing like that soulfood cooking. :)

You know that you can cook all of this. :)

Thanks! I really enjoyed that time with our family.

Xave said...

I know this is an old post, but I have a lot of catching up to do. I liked what I read. I love the fact that you are such a devoted family man. [sigh] I'll keep reading...

Stephen A. Bess said...

Thanks! I do love my immediate family and my extended. Peace~

Black Men in Life Space: A Change for the Better

Photo Source: Showtime The late great Chicago soul singer, Sam Cooke sang and announced that "A Change is Gonna Come." On season f...