Hungry people cannot be good at learning or producing anything, except perhaps violence…Pearl Bailey
Soulful spirit that she was, Pearl Bailey’s culinary autobiography, Pearl’s Kitchen: An Extraordinary Cookbook gave us delightful insight to her home and family. “My kitchen is a mystical place, a kind of temple for me” she wrote late one night at her kitchen table. “It is a place where the surfaces seem to have significance, where the sounds and odors carry meaning that transfers from the past and bridges to the future” she assured us. A deeply spiritual woman, she earned a degree in theology at the age of 67, America’s “Ambassador of Love” was known affectionately to the world as Pearlie Mae. In her 72 years on this earth, Pearl Bailey sang, danced, performed on stage (In 1967, she won a Tony Award for heading the all-Black cast of “Hello, Dolly”), acted in films (she was Maria in ”Porgy and Bess”), and tirelessly committed herself to the betterment of others. During WWII, she toured the country with the USO and performed for American troops. She later was the United States Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations. On March 11, 1989, the Women’s International Center honored Pearl Bailey with The Living Legacy Award for her active support of human rights around the world.
Pearl Bailey was very funny. A self proclaimed humorist she was known for her mix of charm and comedic timing. For a brief season in 1971, the Pearl Bailey Show made its debut on January 23. Some of the guests on her show included Louis Armstrong, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Liza Minnelli, B.B. King and Cab Calloway. Later in her career, Ms. Bailey was a spokesperson for Duncan Hines. Always “thinking of yesterday and cooking for tomorrow,” she also shared a few of her “Pearlie Mae” recipes in an advertising booklet for Paramount chicken. I would like to share some of those recipes with you today.
The following recipe under the heading “Nobody could make fried chicken like my Mama” is dotted with personal side notes and is titled Mama’s Fried Chicken.
Mustn’t forget the Cornish Hens.