About that Bachelor Party. . .

So I did my first bachelor party. . .no no no I don’t mean I was scantily clad “dancing” in front of a throng of men in a hotel suite raining dollar bills. . .the typical celebration of the doomed’s, I mean the groom’s, last night of freedom.  This was not that lewd, male ritual that wives, fiancés, girlfriends, and, even jump-off chicks want their men to stay away from.  In fact, most women I know would have begged their man to go, and even dressed them for and dropped them off at the bachelor party that I had the pleasure of doing for this was a cooking bachelor party.   

”We’ve been joking that in your house the big dilemma will be ‘To Beef or Not to Beef’ since Michelle doesn’t eat red meat,” the host, John, teased during his introduction to the evening. “Which is why I invited Levita here tonight, to do a cooking lesson so we, but especially you, Kofi, could learn something that you can use at home with the Mrs.”

“I would like to start by having each of you say your name, for my sake, and a word of  reflection about, insights on, or advice to Kofi about food, romance, love, and marriage. . . Who wants to go first?” 

“My fiancé and I really enjoy cooking together.  It is one of the most intimate things you can do with a person,” shared Tony, who is the most recently engaged of the four friends. Later, in the midst of making a delicious orange glaze for the sweet potato dish, Tony shared that his fiancé is someone he grew up with, someone whose family went to church with his family.  “Sometimes what you’re looking for has been right under your nose all along.”

“Well, I consider the kitchen my domain, and I don’t really want my wife in here with me. . .but I do see food as a way to feed a person’s spirit,” added John, the foodie and host, whose domain was a chef’s dream–two dish washers, an 8-burner Viking stove, two ovens, and a sub-zero refrigerator, granite counter tops, and an island that opens to guests in the family room, dining room, and porch dining area.  I can see why he’d want it all to himself.

The groom chimed in, “I knew things were serious with me and Michelle when I cooked a meal for her. . .I set up a table in my hallway and placed a gift under her chair.  It was when I gave her a key to my house.  What I was saying with the food and the key is ‘here, I am giving you access to all that I have.’”  O.K. I damn near lost my composure on that one. . .that was until, Arthur, perhaps the smoothest of the bunch, added the most insightful comment on food, romance, love, and marriage.

“I ain’t gonna  lie. . . when I was in college and funds were limited, I cooked as a prelude to . . .yawl know what I’m talking about.”

“And just how far did the Ramen noodles get you, man?” John asked, cracking us all up . 

“Something magical does happen when you cook for someone, but especially, when you do it with her,” I added.  “Bonding and connection takes place.  In the context of a family or a romantic relationship, when you feed someone, you are providing a potential source of healing.  What you prepare can set someone up for life and longevity or set her up for disease and degeneration. . . Treat meals like they are special, sacred even—a time to be present.  Cook together often, set the table, light a candle, put out some fresh flowers, and eat from your finest dishes, like the new ones you’ll receive as a wedding gift.  All of that will go a long long way. . .”

On that note, the men put on their aprons, went to their food stations, and began their cooking assignments.  John had chosen an extensive soul food menu, enough for each person to be responsible for two dishes.  Arthur was on the vegan mac and cheese, John on the garlicky kale, Tony on the barbeque tofu, and Kofi on the corn bread.  Then, in pairs, Kofi and Tony prepared the orange glazed sweet potatoes while Arthur and John prepared a peach cobbler that tasted as good as grandma’s but without the eggs or butter.  Arthur prepared the filling with sliced peaches that he decided to leave the skin on while John prepared the perfect, homemade crust. 

I tried hard to be a fly on the wall and stick to guiding these beautiful men through the preparation of the dishes.  Together we came up with some creative solutions like using a metal colander with holes instead of a sifter for the cornbread’s dry ingredients.  And when we didn’t have an egg substitute for the cornbread, Kofi suggested we use pureed pear since I had shared earlier that apple sauce is a great substitute for eggs in things like cookies, pancakes and cupcakes.  His instinct worked like a charm.  And in the absence of an actual rolling pin, I filled a bottle that was just emptied of refreshing, Italian soda with plain water, and John rolled away.

After he put the cobbler in the oven, he set the table on the outdoor porch, we joined hands, and, the groom said a heartfelt grace, thanking God for all that had taken place that evening.  The men fixed their plates and dined together.  Among other things, they reminisced about days at UVA and unforgettable moments since, debated about R. Kelly, and talked about wedding planning, “Listen closely, Tony, because you might learn something about why a destination wedding might be the way to go. . .there is a reason why you might not want to be uninvolved in the planning process,” John offered. 

By the time I joined them at the table with a pitcher of my hibiscus tea, the recipe for which is a well-guarded secret, the groom’s plate was clean, and his friends’ plates were headed in the same direction.  Each was proud of just how delicious his vegan, soul food dish turned out. 

I was witnessing (black) maleness at its finest. . .the sensuous way in which each man talked about food and love, the quiet power that each possessed, the competitiveness, but mostly creativity and camaraderie in the kitchen. . . There I go again losing my composure.

 

To see vegan recipes for the orange glazed sweet potatoes, barbeque tofu, cornbread and more, see the article “Vegan Soul Grows in Anacostia” from The Washington Post.

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About Levita Mondie

Through Vita's Vegan Ventures, I share my passion for and knowledge of life-affirming vegan cuisine, including Soul Food, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Ghanaian and more. Contact me at vitasveganventures@gmail.com to schedule cooking classes, demonstrations, lectures, and more. See more details at http://vitasveganventures.wordpress.com/ .
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8 Responses to About that Bachelor Party. . .

  1. Trish says:

    There goes Levita, working her vegan magic again! Sounds like this was a wonderful experience for these fine gentlemen! Thanks for sharing.

  2. christine says:

    Damn Levita — this article makes me drool (in more ways than one!). Your writing is as luscious as your food. But please, PLEASE stop teasing me with that peach cobbler and make me some! oh how I love cobbler) Love, love, LOVE seeing you shine!

    • lmondie says:

      You are sooo funny, Christine. I’m glad the post made you “drool in more ways than one.” If you didn’t live so far away, I would invite you over for cobbler. In the meantime, take a traditional cobbler recipe and see if you can veganize it by omitting eggs and using Earth Balance Vegan Butter spread for the fat in the crust or elsewhere in the recipe.

      Hope you, Jade, and your Hubby are doing well! Congrats on your book too!

      • christine says:

        OK, tell me again, where I can get that whack-a-doodle vegan butter? Does anyone know if Harris Teeter carries it (I am crazy loyal to HT and rarely shop anywhere else).

        Oh, and by the way, I don’t live on Mars! I’m back in Maryland (you did know that right?). We need to have a ladies night out with the Maret women. I miss you all.

      • lmondie says:

        Thank you for this inquiry, Christine. You can get Earth Balance Vegan Butter from Whole Foods, My Organic Market, Trader Joe’s and food co-ops. Every now and then I even see it in a regular grocery store. I assure you that it looks, acts, and tastes like butter. Use it in pie crusts, glazes, cookies, slices of hot cornbread, and more. Try it and tell me what you think.

  3. christine says:

    I wonder if you could market pre-made Vegan pie crust because, *really*, “making pie” for most people involves buying the crust in the refrigerator section of the store and then pouring a can of goop inside it! :-) You could become the Soul Food Vegan Sara Lee!

  4. Eric and Terria says:

    WOW! This was great post Vita; I felt like I was in the kitchen with you all!! Your writing is really engaging. Keep up the good work! ;-)

  5. lmondie says:

    Thank you Eric and Terria! Good to hear from you guys.

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