Aunt Jett

When I knew her in my childhood, Jett cooked the same way she had for over sixty years. She learned at her mother’s side, a woman whose people settled a wilderness. They sustained themselves and their families on corn and pork with whatever else they could grow or kill. Food was important to them; it was one of their few sources of satisfaction and pleasure unaffected by morals or religion. They planted and harvested, cooked and baked, canned and preserved, making the most of what they had season to season, year to year, generation to generation.

Jett always had something fixed for whatever company might drop in: stewed greens, limas, black-eyed peas, green beans, new or creamed potatoes, fried chicken, pork chops or breaded steak, and if it was summer she’d have fresh sliced tomatoes, fried okra or corn on the cob. She served her meals with sliced onion, cornbread or biscuits and sawmill gravy with sweetened tea to drink; she seasoned with streak-o’-lean, salt, black pepper, and maybe a little cayenne and sage. No more fundamental meal can be imagined. Jet’s cooking was simple, but not coarse; it had a balance and symmetry all its own, dictated by the teachings of long-ago voices set in concert with the rhythm of the seasons.

Jett thanked God before we ate, and that too is elemental of our sustenance.

Aunt Jet (left) with her sisters Maude and Virgie.
Aunt Jett (left) with her sisters Maude and Virgie.

4 Replies to “Aunt Jett”

  1. I love reading your articles. I can remember Ms Jet—not much about her but where she lived. I can remember my Dad stopping by to check on her. The old picture is priceless too.

  2. This writing is stellar. It could almost be symphonic it has so much precise rhythm. This one stands alone. The great opportunity you give your reader is the fine-tuned development of your perception or recollection of memory. In each of your installments the smell of food cooking is alive, I can hear footsteps and rustlings, I see rooms in three dimensions, and I can feel the temperature of the day. These are strong and important tools that many writers do not buff and polish, or even begin to develop to use. For me they bring on emotion and it is good. Your writing makes other writers stand on the edge of the Tenth Commandment.

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