Earlier today, George Washington Carver Museum on Austin’s East Side played host to a packed house of soul food aficionados who gathered together to celebrate Juneteenth. Angela Shelf Medearis, the noted cookbook author and Bobby Flay ass-beater {Jerk Chicken throwdown} was in fine form. Medearis opened with a riveting monologue on African food culture starting back in the time of slavery, before rolling into the 21st century with a side splitting riff on how some Black folks don’t like to eat watermelon in public. The crowd roared its approval. Dave Chappelle has nothing on Medearis.

The buffet was enormous and well attended to by two very nice ladies who were exercising crowd control over the large group. Jane and Dorette made sure everybody got fed and nobody ended up with a plastic fork in the back of their wrist over a plate of soul food.

No scuffles. The crowd was very polite.

The menu: a cold salad of mixed greens, a cold salad of mixed vegetables, a cold salad of fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, a host of handmade dressings, cracked wheat rolls and the star of the show: marinated, skinless, boneless chicken breast.

Normally, this is a cut that I eschew as it typically has very little flavor, but Chef Medearis showed her wizardry in the kitchen {she is a best selling cookbook author} by putting a serious marinade on the bird thus rendering it juicy and not at all like the tough old shoe that most white meat cooks put on the table. I rampaged through that bird.

Angela Shelf Medearis is a treasure. She could be a stand-up comedian if she ever chose to leave the test kitchen. The crowd, a diverse mix of Austinites, laughed riotously over her opening monologue, but the real proof of her skill came when everybody had their food in front of them.

You could hear a pin drop as we all sat hunkered down over our plates. This is one of my favorite moments during any food party. The hubbub vanishes cause it’s time to take care of the business at hand. Eating the chef’s delicious food.

Chef Medearis has a brand new cookbook out. It’s called The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook. The author has a long history with this dread disease and her response to the killer was to pen a book detailing how to fight it by keeping your food healthy and filled with flavor at the same time.

If lunch today was any indication, the good cook is on the right track. I did not feel the sense of privation that normally comes with “eating healthy.”

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