Barbara Black is someone I have never met, yet my life’s journey has been affected by this little lady more than she could have ever known. She loved life despite any obstacles she encountered along the way. She told stories of driving from Houston to the Balinese Room as a young woman with her friends to see all kinds of 1940s and 1950s icons. She survived breast cancer in the 1970s, when breast cancer was a death sentence for many women. She would later become an accomplished artist by recalling the many travels of her life via oils and acrylics. Her depiction of bluebonnets in spring is the painting I selected for this post. She would help her daughter raise twin baby girls and a sugar of a little boy. Barbara Black was Mona Williams’ mother. Mona is Pank’s Mom and Barbara was his Ninny. I am lucky to have both of these strong ladies as a part of my life.
Pank remembers Ninny setting the alarm for midnight. She would wake Pank and his sisters for a midnight snack, leading them into the kitchen exclaiming, “Come into my Kasbah!” Ninny loved her butter. Her favorite snack was copious amounts of buttered bread. She loved buttermilk and I seem to recall Crème de Menthe in a few Ninny stories. When Ninny was in hospice, her favorite time of day was happy hour. She would sip on her drink of choice and relish in stories with those who knew her best. She didn’t want to miss a moment!
Food and drink are more than just fuel for our bodies. These components ignite our spirit. They are a part of our culture and our history. Here in the south for the past little while, there has been a bit of a twitter rivalry known as #mayogate. There’s Kraft, Hellmann’s, Duke’s and even Kewpie thrown in the mix. Lesley Lassiter writes about this fun debate for Nashville Scene’s food blog Bites.
I rarely buy mayo. It’s so easy to make in small batches. If you are trying to avoid this velvety delicious condiment, Greek yogurt with just a squeeze of lemon juice is a great alternative. Mona recently shared Ninny’s “Mayo in a Blender” recipe with me. You talk about culture! Tonight I will relish in Ninny stories over happy hour with Pank. We will play one of Pank’s favorite ZZ Top songs, Balinese and maybe make some Po’boys topped with Ninny’s “Mayo in a Blender.” Of course, Ninny’s recipe would be spicy …just like her spirit!