Chef’s Eye - “Second Notice”
Thursday, June 25, 2015
In this Chef’s Eye installment, I’m featuring a painting that has a lot of meaning to me, Marshall Bouldin’s Second Notice, that hangs in The Mississippi Story exhibition. It takes me back to my youth on the farm and the strong men and women in my family who made it all go. In the woman in the painting, I see my grandmother – a lady who is all about business. She is in charge and taking care of every situation.
I’m also drawn to the chickens. Chickens were everywhere growing up. They roamed free range all over the yard all the time. When you came out the door as a kid, chickens would fly up all around you. We had one in particular that we named Tina Turner. She, like the singer, was the most beautiful one of the bunch and she had this really spiky hair that you couldn’t miss.
The title of this painting tells me that the woman here is dealing with something serious. She’s about to plant her garden to feed her family and is having to deal with some bad news, maybe even an eviction notice. But she’s holding her ground, and the chickens have her back. My grandmother would say, “always take care of your animals and they’ll take care of you.” That’s with me to this day and carries forward into the way I view food. It’s important to know where our food comes from; to know every chicken and hog and cow by name. A farmer knows that even though they’ll one day be on the plate, animals are a part of the family. In the old school way of living in Mississippi, the sacrifice of your animals and the harvest of crops for sustenance was the only way to feed the children and to keep going. I keep that in mind every day that I cook. The products I work with have important stories, and so when I prepare them, I treat them with respect. I give them second life.