I remember being on a college break once and visiting my homeboy Okorie at his mother’s crib out in Kettering. O and I were like peas in a pod. Having both grown up in Southeast and having taken part in activities similarly rare for boys from the hood, we had both made friends with writing, music, and as it would turn out…cooking. We were starving and the cupboards were bare. But scraping together what little his mother had in the cupboard we came up with homemade fries, iced tea and a number of other homemade items that tasted like the greatest thing in the world as they went down to quell our hunger pangs. The end result of an hour’s worth of effort was more valuable to us than a stack of Benjamins. It is through this little anecdote that I mean to explain the joys of cooking poor.
I’m on a limited budget this week as I invested too much in getting my bike fixed after some punks stripped it last weekend. After taking care of the most pressing bills I was down to a few dollars to last me almost two weeks. So I bought a value pack of chicken breasts for six dinners and a pair of lamb chops which would make up eight meals. I had turkey bacon for dinner, but there wasn’t going to be anything for lunch unless I went with BLTs. So luckily I had a few dollars left over. It was soup time.
When I was a boy my father’s father had a tradition of turning holiday turkey into soup after a few days. This soup, one of the tastiest I’ve had, would be a sought after thing as it demarcated the end of the given holiday. I remember that soup, even though I haven’t had it in over 20 years. But I wanted something like it today. So I got myself a pack of chicken fry parts, broke them up into sections of five, bagged two groups for freezing and dropped some legs, thighs and wings into the biggest soup pot I had.
I added water and chicken stock, chopped garlic, corn, chili oil, black pepper, sea salt and a little lemon pepper and brought it to a boil. After a good thirty minutes I squeezed the juice from a single lemon into the broth and added some Japanese soup noodles. Five minutes later I was eating a lovely meal that cost me under ten bucks and that will probably last me for at least a day. Each bowl of the soup is served with one of the cooked chicken parts. It’s delicious.
It was Chef Anthony Bourdain who once said that it is poverty that makes the best cooks. I think this is true. Were I ballin’ right now the last thing I’d be doing is making chicken soup. But when I was done with the process I had this sense of accomplishment that could never have come from take-out. And this bowl of soup will last far longer than anything I could have ordered out of the sake of convenience. I’m still eating as I type. Sometimes food actually is better than sex 😉