Real Men Cook: Rites, Rituals, and Recipes for Living

Real Men Cook: Rites, Rituals, and Recipes for Living

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by K. Kofi Moyo, Karega Kofi Moyo

Sixteen years ago on Father's Day in Chicago, K. Kofi Moyo and his wife, Yvette, gathered together a group of men for a food festival. Each man prepared his signature dish. The goal was to raise money for local charitable organizations and shine a light on the "real men" -- the unsung heroes of the black community -- who care for their families throughout the year. See more details below


Sixteen years ago on Father's Day in Chicago, K. Kofi Moyo and his wife, Yvette, gathered together a group of men for a food festival. Each man prepared his signature dish. The goal was to raise money for local charitable organizations and shine a light on the "real men" -- the unsung heroes of the black community -- who care for their families throughout the year.

Real Men Cook for Charity is now the largest national Father's Day event in the United States. In cities all across the country, from New York to Los Angeles, from Chicago to New Orleans, several hundred husbands, uncles, brothers, coaches, and teachers have participated in the event and have raised nearly a million dollars for a variety of charities, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the YMCA, and for health initiatives like prostate cancer awareness.

The men are all different, whether they are from Chi-town (up-South from Mississippi and Arkansas), N'awlins, Motown, Dallas, D.C., Miami, Philly, L.A., the Big Apple (with fried fish and biscuits on the side), or Hotlanta. But on Father's Day, they stand together, united by their love of cooking and an unwavering commitment to brotherhood and community.

In Real Men Cook, the men share more than one hundred mouthwatering, finger-lickin'-good recipes -- the kind of recipes that make the Father's Day event a must-attend for all who appreciate a good plate of food. Equally important, they open their hearts, offering memories of growing up, tales of Real Men Cook events, and wisdom for the next generation.

This unique book is a priceless legacy that will nourish your family in spirit and body.

A delicious, heartwarming collection of soul-stirringstories and more than one hundred soul-satisfying recipes from real men who do it in the kitchen!

Every Father's Day for the past sixteen years, men -- from the guy next door to politicians, entrepreneurs, athletes, and artists -- gather together in cities across the country to participate in the Real Men Cook for Charity event. They sacrifice more than a quiet Sunday at home: they spend weeks preparing and all day on their feet dishing out their savory creations for more than thirty thousand people. The time and effort is rewarded only by the smiles on the faces of the women and children who gather for the celebration every year.

Now one hundred and eight of these remarkable volunteers come forward to express their love of cooking, family, and community, sharing more than one hundred delectable recipes (some handed down over the generations) and the memories that inspire them to live as Real Men.

Here's a sample of the treasures you'll find in Real Men Cook:

  • Captain Kofi's Candlelight Catfish

  • Darryl's Dynamite Chicken Wings

  • William Higgonbotham's Red Velvet Cake

  • Peter Henderson's Buffalo Soldiers' Stampede Stew

  • The Sawyers' Red Beans and Rice -- Three Ways

  • Captain Leander Carter's Famous Chesapeake Bay Fish Chowder

  • Otis Henderson's This Ain't Momma's Tuna Casserole

  • Derrick Malone's Boozy Black Beans

  • Dr. Horace C. Broy, Jr.'s Sticky Caramel Pecan Rolls

  • Jeff Scales's Scrumptious Tropical Rum Coconut Pecan Ice Cream

More than a cookbook, Real Men Cook presents a priceless recipe for living.

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Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.80(d)

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Chapter One: Tender Gravy

I was blessed to be part of a family in which essential life skills were not relegated to a specific class or gender. Both my father, Arnold Saunders, and my mother, Lydia, could cook, clean, sew, iron, work, make things with their hands, and provide discipline.

A great cook of simple fare, my father frequently made something he called "tender gravy." It was made from the juices of meat, augmented with flour, water, and seasonings, simmered long and ever so slowly to ensure that every grain of flour was saturated. The mixture became tender and somehow much more than the sum of its parts. Even the toughest cuts of meat, fowl, or wild game were completely tenderized and would melt in your mouth. That gravy was served over the meat and the potatoes on the side. What was left could be sopped up with a piece of bread until the plate was shining clean. My father's gravy provides a metaphor for all of the lessons he taught me, lessons that enabled me to grow into manhood with positive values intact and to pass those values on to my own children.

Growing up as I did with parents who took cooking, eating, and nurturing seriously, it's no wonder why I would choose to involve myself for the past sixteen years in an event that challenges preconceptions by elevating men, celebrating families and supporting the community. Real Men Cook is an expression of everything I am and something that I could not help wanting to share with other men of like mind.

Beyond my ambitions for social relevance, there were even more primordial concerns that drove my interest in the event. First and foremost, I love food, and I am fascinated bythe food industry. My curiosity extends from the garden or farm all the way to the pot on the stove. I can wander around all day in wholesale produce markets where rail and trucks deposit the lifeblood of urban existence. Ethnic markets and groceries that reflect the diversity of American society make city living incredibly exciting to me.

I am humbled by the endless variety of vegetables; the colors, textures, and smells of exotic spices, dried meats, salted fish, and olives; and the various oils infused with herbs and spices for cooking and flavoring. The conversations of the shoppers and, often, the engagement of shop owners as they offer suggestions and personal experiences from their cultural backgrounds are music to my ears. Street markets with thousands of delis and cut flowers invigorate me. I never cease to be amazed by a farming system that ranges from environmentally correct to genetically efficient, a system that churns out questionably nutritious end products that enable millions of Americans to become grossly overfed. As I wander, I wonder, "How does a prepackaged salad get to be more expensive than the cost of the separate ingredients of which it is composed? How has 'fresh frozen' emerged as a standard of quality that eclipses what is available at the farmer's market?" In any case, I am awed by the experience.

Secondly, I am motivated no less by the fact that I love to eat. After an early childhood of being thin and sickly with frequent colds and upper respiratory ailments and enduring the relatives who made me eat a multitude of things that I deemed unfit for human consumption, I blossomed into an overachiever in all things edible. Now, fortunately or unfortunately, I have evolved into a person who sees food as something more than just fuel to keep the body going. It is a thing to be experienced, savored, and shared.

"Tender Gravy" emotes the fundamentals of historical cooking and family traditions, and reflects the relationships that these men had with their grandfathers, fathers, or elders who helped shape and mentor them into the men they are today.

The world in which we live is much more diverse than ever before. Its values and views defy the imagination of a man like me, with more than sixty-five years elapsed on my calendar. The "traditional family" of the twenty-first century almost defies definition. We have blended, extended, adoptive, and foster families. Sometimes the mother alone is the head of the household. Increasingly, a father or grandparent is raising the children solo.

No matter what the family configuration, balance is required for the best end product. As a rule, children benefit most from the presence of both a mother and father. That was the model I was exposed to growing up, and it is the model that has worked for me in raising nine children, even though we all did not always live in the same household.

Children need help to navigate modernity with all of its conflicts and contradictions. Modern life moves at a disorienting, quick pace: communication, transportation, and forms of entertainment are pushing the limits of what is socially acceptable. The impact of modernity on our families is a subject for another book. Right now, I am merely admonishing readers to sit up and pay attention. Patch up your relationships. Turn off those talk shows. Stop going to the moral court for answers when the real ones are in your heart of hearts. You might have forgotten how or why you found your way to the bedroom, or wherever it was that you mutually consented to let "it" happen. The fact remains that "it" happened, and both people need to be there for the child that was born as a result. No one can deny that successful adults are ones who benefited from a secure environment while growing up. There were grown-ups in their life who directed their development.

Looking back on my childhood, I realize that my family life was certainly not perfect. Truth is, my parents separated and divorced after twenty-one years of marriage. Many of the issues that led up to the big divide were there for all to see, but the fact remains that both of my parents were always supportive of me.

All of the recipes in this section reflect a special relationship and bond that these Real Men had with that uncle, grandfather, father, or elder who took the time to guide these men along the path called life. I have chosen these recipes on purpose. Some were my father's favorites, like Lamb Da-Ra-Ja, and Captain Leander Carter's Famous Chesapeake Bay Fish Chowder. Aside from the fact that my father loved chowders, the recipe connects Stephen Carter with his roots, his grandfather. These recipes established key relationships for these strong brothers who are carrying the torch -- and showcasing the positive images of African American men.

Copyright © 2005 by Karega Kofi Moyo

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