“My grandmother Hazel C. Todd (“Grammy”) was an amazing cook. At first she didn’t know how to make much, her mother Mary and father Joseph had a lot of kids and my great grandmother, affectionately known as “Big Mama,” didn’t really do to much culinary training. She learned a lot by watching her father who made the large Sunday midday meal after church and after she married my Grandfather gleaned a lot from her aunties and the ladies in her circles. She really knew how to impart the taste of Alabama in her food.
A survivor of the Jim Crow South, my Grammy was dedicated to Civil Rights and Pan Africanism. She used to tell me, “sit up straight like Mr. Garvey!” Her food—her chicken and greens and candied yams and homemade rolls were always a hit and she gave away a lot to friends and neighbors even though she never really had a lot. One of the first things she taught me to master was her fried chicken and I’m sure this herby, spicy melange will perk up fried chicken, fish, seafood, hush puppies and oven or air-fried goodies too! The trick is to season the protein or veggie well not the flour. My grandmother was keen to remind me the spices would burn in the hot grease.”