Sunday dinner – just to be clear – in Mississippi “dinner” is after church lunch on Sunday, you eat lunch Monday-Saturday, and Supper in the evenings.
Many of my Sunday dinners were spent at Mammaw’s house. My sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles all piled in the small one bedroom house. TV trays were dispersed around the living room, extra stools and chairs were crammed under the big wooden dinner table, and the only time there was silence was during grace, every once in a while, interrupted by a grandchild’s cry.
Still dressed in her Sunday church clothes and an added apron, Mammaw stood at the stove in front of her big cast iron pot over sizzling hot oil. I remember staring up at it and getting excited because she was making one of my favorites, fried okra, battered in nothing but cornmeal and fried to a crisp. If I was lucky, she would sneak me a hot crunchy piece to try.
All the cousins raced around the room, dodging picture frames, TV trays, and knick knacks while waiting for Mammaw’s magic words, “It’s ready!” We all gathered in the kitchen, sometimes holding hands, belly’s rumbling and waiting for grace to be said. One by one, we filled our plates with collard greens, corn, yellow squash, butter beans, garden tomatoes, a meat, a casserole of some sort (never quite sure what was really in it) and of course, fried okra.
I would strategically place everything on my plate, making sure to keep it all separated. Others, such as Uncle JR, loped as much food possible on his plate and then mix it all together. We each had our special way of piling up our plates and making sure to get that extra scoop of our favorite dish.
As we would all scatter to our various spots, grabbing a sweet tea along the way, we would start to notice the smell. Before your first bite, the familiar whiff would creep up your nostrils. Ignoring it out of hunger, you savor your first bite. Smoke seeps from the oven, the fire alarm sounds off, and then someone says, “MAMMAW, you burnt the rolls, AGAIN!”
So I guess the moral of the story is, if you burn your rolls for Sunday dinner it is not a bad thing. It just means you are distracted and surrounded by your family and lots of love. I suppose, I look forward to burning my Sunday rolls.
I love you Mammaw!
Pearline Reed 1928-2010