Thursday, September 17, 2009

Aunt Bonnie and Miss Patti

I spoke with my Aunt Bonnie this morning. Bonnie has had her physical challenges over the past several years but her spirit is still very strong. She was, of course, more concerned about others, including my parents, than herself. I spoke with her about a growing desire I've been having to put together a family cookbook to preserve cherished recipes and create a family history through food. Aunt Bonnie would be greatly featured in one such book on the strength of her chicken noodles alone. I call them Bonnie's Magic Noodles. As a kid, I would scope out those noodles at any family get-together first and foremost. They were like a bowl of little delicious security blankets; the ultimate comfort food. They have shown up much to my joy throughout my life from reunions to funerals. I would love to have any recipes she would share with me. My Aunt Bonnie is a family and city treasure.

The dish in the photo was the result of my return to cooking tonight. I made Superb 7-Spice Chicken with curried rice and Asian-style vegetables from Patti Labelle's Lite Cuisine cookbook. It turned out really well. The dish called for some spices I hadn't worked with before such as Chinese Five-Spice which has an enticing aroma. Despite the fact that I read and reread the recipe four times, I failed to notice that when it said turn the chicken over it was followed with bake 30 more minutes. I apparently thought after turning it over, it would cook lickety-split and be ready. Luckily, I caught it right before I nearly took the dish out of the oven a half-hour early. Latest lesson EVERY word of the recipe. Yeesh.

Now, Miss Patti and I had a close encounter a few years back. Keith and I were staying at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. We were meeting colleagues in Chelsea for dinner and were taking the elevator down to hail a cab. The elevator stopped on one of the floors and a gentleman in a headset asked us to hold the elevator for some folks who were on their way. Several minutes ticked by and Keith's patience was wearing thin because he was HUNGRY and Moses, part the Red Sea cuz Keith's comin' to dinner. Several painfully hip types boarded the car and we were informed that we were still waiting for two more. Finally, two smallish African-American women stepped on and turned their backs to us and we descended to the lobby. On the way down, I heard one of the women say to the other, "Honey, you need to come over some time. Miss Patti will cook for you." I peered at them closer and my heart went up in my throat. It was Patti LaBelle and Mary J. Blige. Myriad emotions rolled across my face but I couldn't utter a word. The only move I could make was to repeatedly tug on Keith's shirt sleeve which only served to annoy him more as he had no idea who they were and did I mention he was hungry?! Keith drug me out of the elevator and said, "What!!!" I managed to sputter out the women's identities to his shock. Turns out they were there to perform at a Grammy benefit honoring Bono, for the love of God. I wasn't right again for weeks later.

I did right by your dish tonight, Lady Marmalade. I hope to do right by yours also, Aunt Bonnie.


Kristy said...

Loved this post and love love love Aunt Bonnie's noodles. She is a local culinary legend and Larry has the belly to prove it.

Charlotte's Web of Books said...

What a great story about Miss Patti!

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