Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes

Overview

Throughout Maya Angelou’s life, from her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas, to her world travels as a bestselling writer, good food has played a central role. Preparing and enjoying homemade meals provides a sense of purpose and calm, accomplishment and connection. Now in Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, Angelou shares memories pithy and poignant–and the recipes that helped to make them both indelible and irreplaceable.

Angelou tells us about the time she was expelled from school for ...

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Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes

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Overview

Throughout Maya Angelou’s life, from her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas, to her world travels as a bestselling writer, good food has played a central role. Preparing and enjoying homemade meals provides a sense of purpose and calm, accomplishment and connection. Now in Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, Angelou shares memories pithy and poignant–and the recipes that helped to make them both indelible and irreplaceable.

Angelou tells us about the time she was expelled from school for being afraid to speak–and her mother baked a delicious maple cake to brighten her spirits. She gives us her recipe for short ribs along with a story about a job she had as a cook at a Creole restaurant (never mind that she didn’t know how to cook and had no idea what Creole food might entail). There was the time in London when she attended a wretched dinner party full of wretched people; but all wasn’t lost–she did experience her initial taste of a savory onion tart. She recounts her very first night in her new home in Sonoma, California, when she invited M. F. K. Fisher over for cassoulet, and the evening Deca Mitford roasted a chicken when she was beyond tipsy–and created Chicken Drunkard Style. And then there was the hearty brunch Angelou made for a homesick Southerner, a meal that earned her both a job offer and a prophetic compliment: “If you can write half as good as you can cook, you are going to be famous.”

Maya Angelou is renowned in her wide and generous circle of friends as a marvelous chef. Her kitchen is a social center. From fried meat pies, chicken livers, and beef Wellington to caramel cake, bread pudding, and chocolate éclairs, the one hundred-plus recipes included here are all tried and true, and come from Angelou’s heart and her home. Hallelujah! The Welcome Table is a stunning collaboration between the two things Angelou loves best: writing and cooking.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Beloved author Maya Angelou admits that reminiscing stirs her appetite. In the spirit of celebration, she's therefore created an appetite-quenching blend of personal memories and homegrown recipes. A feast of a memoir.
Publishers Weekly
Readers familiar with Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will find what may be the secret ingredient of her success in this collection of tear- and laughter-provoking vignettes with 73 savory recipes. Here's Angelou's grandmother's Chicken and Dumplings, Crackling Corn Bread and Caramel Cake. Big brother Bailey makes a mean batch of Smothered Pork Chops and knows how to stretch them for a week's worth of meals. Mother, who "cooked wonderful meals and was very poignant about how to present them," can make a Roasted Capon play second fiddle to Red Rice. As the wider world beckons, Angelou dines. Sometimes she's the worker; having passed herself off as an experienced Creole cook, she becomes one with her Braised Short Ribs. Other times, she's the hostess serving what M.F.K. Fisher pronounces "the first honest cassoulet I have eaten in years." A batch of spoon bread nets Angelou a job and compliment: "If you can write half as good as you can cook, you are going to be famous." She does, and the food world widens (tamales, pat , minestrone, chachouka), and the fellow diners often have famous names (Oprah, Jessica Mitford, Rosa Guy). The food remains delectable and comfortable, and Angelou's directions are minimal but clear enough for experienced cooks. Color photos not seen by PW. Simultaneous audio release. Agent, Helen Brann. (On sale Sept. 21) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In each chapter of this engaging book, renowned autobiographer and poet Angelou deftly couples brief anecdotes from her life with more than 60 recipes for food enjoyed at that time. These recipes reflect Angelou's experience and growth and become more diverse as the book progresses without becoming complex or difficult. Readers will be torn between losing themselves in the evocative text and rushing to the kitchen to whip up such delights as her grandmother's caramel cake or the white bean cassoulet that Angelou prepared for food writer M.F.K. Fisher. Order as many copies as possible--both foodies and Angelou's traditional audience will seek out and enjoy this gem. For all public libraries, plus literature and cookery collections. (Color photographs not seen.) [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/04.]--Andrea R. Dietze, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812974850
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/9/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 49,997
  • Product dimensions: 7.39 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was raised in Stamps, Arkansas. In addition to her bestselling autobiographies, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and The Heart of a Woman, she wrote numerous volumes of poetry, among them Phenomenal Woman, And Still I Rise, On the Pulse of Morning, and Mother. Maya Angelou died in 2014.

Biography

As a chronicler of her own story and the larger civil rights movement in which she took part, Maya Angelou is remarkable in equal measure for her lyrical gifts as well as her distinct sense of justice, both politically and personally.

Angelou was among the first, if not the first, to create a literary franchise based on autobiographical writings. In the series' six titles -- beginning with the classic I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and followed by Gather Together in My Name, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, Heart of a Woman, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, and 2002's A Song Flung Up to Heaven -- Angelou tells her story in language both no-nonsense and intensely spiritual.

Angelou's facility with language, both on paper and as a suede-voiced speaker, have made her a populist poet. Her 1995 poem "Phenomenal Woman" is still passed along the Web among women as inspiration ("It's in the reach of my arms/The span of my hips/The stride of my steps/The curl of my lips./I'm a woman/Phenomenally/Phenomenal woman/That's me"), and her 1993 poem "On the Pulse of the Morning," written for Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration, was later released as a Grammy-winning album.

Angelou often cites other writers (from Kenzaburo Oe to James Baldwin) both in text and name. But as often as not, her major mentors were not writers – she had been set to work with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. before each was assassinated, stories she recounts in A Song Flung Up to Heaven.

Given her rollercoaster existence -- from poverty in Arkansas to journalism in Egypt and Ghana and ultimately, to her destiny as a successful writer and professor in the States – it's no surprise that Angelou hasn't limited herself to one or two genres. Angelou has also written for stage and screen, acted, and directed. She is the rare author from whom inspiration can be derived both from her approach to life as from her talent in writing about it. Reading her books is like taking counsel from your wisest, favorite aunt.

Good To Know

Angelou was nominated for an Emmy for her performance as Nyo Boto in the 1977 miniseries Roots. She has also appeared in films such as How to Make an American Quilt and Poetic Justice, and she directed 1998's Down in the Delta.

Angelou speaks six languages, including West African Fanti.

She taught modern dance at the Rome Opera House and the Hambina Theatre in Tel Aviv.

Before she became famous as a writer, Maya Angelou was a singer. Miss Calypso is a CD of her singing calypso songs.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Margeurite Johnson
      Maya Angelou
    2. Hometown:
      Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 4, 1928
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Louis, Missouri
    1. Education:
      High school in Atlanta and San Francisco

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Pie Fishing

My grandmother, who my brother, Bailey, and I called Momma, baked lemon meringue pie that was unimaginably good. My brother and I waited for the pie. We yearned for it, longed for it. Bailey even hinted and dropped slightly veiled suggestions about it, but none of his intimations hastened its arrival. Nor could anything he said stave off the story that came part and parcel with the pie.

Bailey would complain, "Momma, you told us that story a hundred times" or "We know what happened to the old woman" and "Momma, can we just have the pie?" (Momma always ignored his attempts to prevent her from telling the tale.) But if we wanted Momma's lemon meringue pie, we had to listen to the story:

There was an old woman who had made it very clear that she loved young men. Everyone in town knew where her interests lay so she couldn't get any local young men to come to her house. Old men had to be called to clean out her chimney or fix her roof or mend her fences. She learned to count on finding young strangers who were traveling through the area.

One Sunday morning there was a new young man in church sitting alone. Mrs. Townsend saw him and as soon as the last hymn was sung, before anyone else could reach him, she rushed over to his bench.

"Morning, I'm Hattie Townsend. What's your name?"

"George Wilson, ma'am."

She frowned a little.

"Anybody get to you?"

"No, ma'am. I don't know anyone here. Just passed by, saw the church, and stopped in." He had used the word ma'am out of courtesy.

She was all smiles again. "Well, then I'm inviting you, and I am a good cook, to my house for Sunday dinner. I have my own chickens and two cows, so my chickens are fresh and my butter is rich. I live in walking distance. Here is my address; come around this afternoon around three o'clock."

She patted him on the shoulder and left the church.

A few young men from the congregation rushed over.

"Mrs. Townsend invited you for dinner?"

"Yes."

"Well, I'm Bobby. Here's Taylor and this one is Raymond. We've all been to her house and she's a good cook."

The men started laughing.

"No, she's a great cook. It's just that after you eat, she pounces."

"Man, the lady can pounce."

The stranger said, "I don't mind a little pouncing."

They all laughed again. "But man, she's old. She's older than my mother."

"She's older than my grandmother."

"She's older than baseball."

The stranger said, "I'll eat dinner and after that I can take care of myself. Thanks, fellas, for warning me."

Bobby shouted, "Her lemon pie will make a rabbit hug a hound."

Taylor added, "Make a preacher lay his Bible down."

Meanwhile, Mrs. Townsend entered her house and went directly to her sewing box. She put on her glasses and took out a needle.

She walked back down the path to her house and stuck the needle in a tree.

She returned to the house and began to cook a chicken she had resting in the refrigerator. For the next hour she stirred pots and shifted pans, then she set her dining table for two. She had time to freshen up and change before her company came.

"Well, welcome, Mr. Wilson."

He was a little cooler than he had been at church.

She knew why but she also knew he hadn't eaten her cooking.

"The bathroom is here if you would like to freshen up. Dinner is not quite ready yet."

Of course everything was ready, but she wanted him to have time to breathe in the fine aromas floating in the air.

She served him chicken and dumplings. Chicken tender as mercy and dumplings light as summer clouds.

The side dishes were fried yellow summer squash and English peas.

He didn't care that he was eating as if he hadn't eaten in a month. She kept pressing him, "Eat some more, but save a place for dessert. Some people swear by my lemon meringue pie."

Between bites she thought she heard him mumble, "That's my favorite."

When he put his first bite of Mrs. Townsend's pie in his mouth, he was hers. He was ready to marry her or let her adopt him.

She sat opposite and watched as with each forkful he surrendered more.

After the second slice he would have followed her to the Sahara Desert.

She said, "Let's go out on the porch for the air."

He replied meekly, "Yes, ma'am."

Once they settled into the swing on the porch she said, "My goodness, night has fallen. It's quite dark."

"Yes, ma'am. It's dusk all right."

They swung a few times.

She asked, "What on earth is that shining down there in that tree?"

He squinted, "I can't hardly see a tree."

She said, "Yes, I see it. It's either a needle or a pin shining. Well, I do say. It's a needle."

He asked, "You can tell?"

She said, "Yes, I see the hole. I'll go get it."

He said, "Well, that proves you are not as old as they say you are. When you come back I may have some talk for you."

She stepped off the porch and went down the lane and retrieved the needle. When she came back she could hardly see the house, but she kept walking with her head up, triumph in her grasp.

She tripped in the darkness. After much fumbling she was able to stand erect. She saw that she had fallen over a cow that had lain down in the lane.

Mr. Wilson saw her fall, and he could see the cow. When she gave a little scream, he bounded off the porch to help her. Once she collected herself, he said, "Well, thank you for dinner. I have to go."

She asked, "Can't you stay for one more slice of pie?" The strength of the pie can be seen in the fact that he did stop to think about it.

She took his arm as if she wasn't going to give it back. He thought of the pie again and then the cow and the possible pouncing. He said, "No, ma'am," and snatched his arm and went away running. He escaped, but he never forgot the pie.

Each time, my grandmother laughed until tears flooded her cheeks. I think she knew Mrs. Townsend or someone very much like her.

Here is the recipe. In fact, here are the recipes for Mrs. Townsend's entire Young-Man-Catching Sunday Afternoon Dinner.

Best wishes.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Serves 6

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups hot water

1 1/2 cups crumbs from soft-type bread (no crusts)

4 egg yolks (reserve whites for Meringue)

1 tablespoon butter

Grated rind of 1 medium lemon

Juice of 2 medium lemons

One 9-inch pie shell, baked

Meringue (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In top part of double boiler, mix well sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in hot water and combine until smooth. Add bread crumbs and cook over boiling water, stirring until smooth and thickened.

In small mixing bowl, beat egg yolks, and stir in a small amount of mixture. Then combine the two mixtures in boiler, and cook over low to medium heat for

2 to 3 minutes. Add butter, lemon rind, and lemon juice. Cool slightly.

Pour mixture into baked shell. Pile Meringue lightly on top, covering filling completely.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Meringue

4 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

4 tablespoons sugar

Beat egg whites with salt until frothy. Gradually add cream of tartar and sugar. Beat until stiff but not dry.

Chicken and Dumplings

Serves 6 to 8

1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds cut up)

6 chicken wings

1 large Spanish onion, chopped and sauteed but not browned

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

Bouquet Garni (recipe follows)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Dop Dumplings (recipe follows)

Wash and pat dry chicken.
Take flange off chicken wings.
Place cut-up chicken and wings into large, heavy pot and add water to cover 1-inch above chicken.
Add onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, and Bouquet Garni. Season with salt and pepper.
Allow mixture to simmer slowly for 1 1/2 hours. Let cool. Remove any foam that has gathered on top of the broth.

Bring broth to a slight boil, and drop heaping tablespoons of dumpling batter into pot. Fill top of pot with dumplings. Cover pot, and simmer for 15 minutes - dumplings will rise. Baste dumplings, and continue simmering for another 5 minutes. Remove cover and baste dumplings. Serve hot on platter.

Bouquet Garni

3 bay leaves

8 black peppercorns

Tops from two stalks of celery

1 teaspoon margarine

Cut double thickness of cheesecloth 6 inches wide. Place bay leaves, peppercorns, celery tops, and margarine in center of cheesecloth. Pull corners of cheesecloth together, and tie with kitchen twine.

Drop Dumplings

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 heaping teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into mixing bowl. Add butter, mixing with fingertips, then milk, until mixture is consistency of grainy cornmeal.

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2006

    Amazing

    What I love most about this book is how each section of recipes is accompanied by a 2 - 4 page story. I adore cookbooks that read like novels. One note, I keep kosher and this cookbook contains lots of pork/bacon recipe stuff. The table of contents is great: She lists the story and then lists all the recipes under each story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2005

    Great collection

    This is a great collection of poetry, Maya at her best I believe. I can't put this book down. Another book that I've read lately is titled 'Introducing: The Composer' by LaJaydan James Daniels, he is an up and coming african american poet

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2004

    My first Maya book and will not be the last

    I have not had a chance to see any of her other books, but I surely will after this one. I enjoyed the information besides the recipes. Maya's books is wonderful and I recommend it highly to everyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2004

    Well-written, Inspiring, and Delicious

    This book is organized by family events and is part autobiographical and part recipes -- it serves the dual function of letting you know more about Maya, her background, and the events/rememberances of her past that make the recipes not only delicious, but very special. This is an not just a cookbook, it is an inspirational book. Those who have read Maya's previous books/poems know you can always expect excellence -- well this book is a continuance of that -- it is very well written. Maya's other books are must-reads as well (especially 'I know why the caged bird sings'). In addition I recommend (different author), 'Dear Co-workers: The Blessings Just Keep On Pouring In.'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2007

    Wonderful

    For those who can't get enough of Maya Angelou, this book exposes yet another remarkable talent of hers...her culinary talent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2010

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    Posted January 6, 2012

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