When I look back over my life, one thing that resonates in my memory is the passion and joy I felt, and still feel today, from being there for others and cooking food. This passion was birthed from being around my Mother, Grandmother and Aunt.
Now, let me share a story about three lovely, powerful, God-fearing ladies that truly impacted my love for cooking. Each of them taught me how to put God first, respect others and self and to love mankind; and, of course, how to put love into food.
As a youth, I always found myself assisting the elderly ladies in my community; running errands and helping them with household tasks.
My aunt was a gourmet chef. Her food would make you hum and shake your leg and tap your feet. Her food would make you happy and bring joy to your soul. This left long lasting memory.
My grandmother and I would visit her church quite often for different church events. She was the church’s cook. When the congregants would sit down to eat ... there was complete silence. The only thing one would hear was the clinking of forks hitting their plates and the smiles on their faces with the true pleasure of being satisfied.
My earliest memory of attempting to make my very first peach cobbler on my own was at the age of twelve. I wanted to surprise my grandparents; so I called my Aunt and asked her how to cook a peach cobbler. She laughed, but she spoke with excitement as she gave me her recipe. I was very eager to take on such an endeavor as my Aunt spoke with enthusiasm, giving me her recipe. I began to follow her instructions.
I waited for my grandparents to return with anticipation, enthusiasm and a little anxiety. As my grandmother entered the house, the first thing she said was, “who messed up the kitchen?” With fear, I announced, “I made a peach cobbler!”
She looked with amazement and smiled. Then she called my grandfather into the kitchen. As they sat at the table to eat, I could tell by the look on their faces that my cobbler wasn’t the best. But, I could also see the pride and love they had for me for taking on such a task.
My grandmother hugged me and said, “Saturday, Granny will help you make another cobbler.” I still follow that recipe and many others that she passed down to me.
Lastly, the next person that put a stamp on my Culinary Skills and influenced and trained me in the art of putting my heart, body and soul into cooking was my Mommy. Her food put a whole new meaning and definition to “Soul Food”. She showed and taught me how to use seasonings and how to unite vegetables and meats; just like a marriage...
To this day, when I look into the eyes of those I serve and those I prepare food for... I can see the same joy I saw when people would eat my Auntie’s, my Grandmaw’s and my Mother’s cuisine. It’s the look one has when falling in love for the very first time... It’s indescribable!!!
I dedicate Nessa’s Southern Delite to my three influencers: Ollie Mae White, Mae Ella Roundtree, and Ella Mae Grooms. If it had not been for the three of them, my vision and my dreams of serving others would not have become a reality.
In paying homage to my Mommy, it is with sincerity and love that I’ve named my building It’s Magic Marketplace the home of Nessa’s Southern Delite. We’re located at 1201 Oakland Blvd. Fort Worth, TX 76103. Not coincidentally, in 1969 this is the exact address where Mommy worked as a cosmetologist and shortly thereafter she opened her own business, It’s Magic Beauty Salon and Bouquet and ran it loyally for over seventy years, on the Southside of the city of Fort Worth!
Despite my Mother, Mae Ella Roundtree, not being present on earth to witness this milestone in my life, I can say this was all inspired by her… teaching me how to make my dreams become a reality!!!
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6