"I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and sword in my hands." ~Zora Neale Hurston~
Today IAU will like to pay tribute to a local Author's life and her work, so we are featuring
Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 - January 28, 1960)
An American folklorist, anthropologist and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. Of Hurston's four novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays and essays, she is best known for her 1937 novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God."
A BIT OF HISTORY BEHIND THE WOMAN:
Hurston was the fifth of eight children of John Hurston and Lucy Ann Hurston (née Potts). Her father was a Baptist preacher, tenant farmer, and carpenter, and her mother was a school teacher. Though Hurston claimed as an adult that she was born in Eatonville, Florida in 1901, she was actually born in Notasulga, Alabama in 1891 (Jan. 7, 1891), where her father grew up and her grandfather was the preacher of a Baptist church. Her family moved to Eatonville, the first all-Black town to be incorporated in the United States, when she was three. Her father later became mayor of the town, which Hurston would glorify in her stories as a place black Americans could live as they desired, independent of white society. Hurston spent the remainder of her childhood in Eatonville, and describes the experience of growing up in Eatonville in her 1928 essay "How It Feels to Be Colored Me".
Excerpt from "Spunk" debut short story
A Giant of a brown-skinned man sauntered up the one street of the village and out into the palmetto thickets with a small pretty woman clinging lovingly to his arm.
"Looka theah, folkses!" cried Elijah Mosley, slapping his leg gleefully, "Theah they go, big as life an' brassy as tacks."
All the loungers in the store tried to walk to the door with an air of nonchalance but with small success.
"Now pee-eople!" Walter Thomas gasped. "Will you look at 'em!"
"But that's one thing Ah likes about Spunk Banks--he ain't skeered of nothin'on God's green footstool--nothin'! He rides that log down at saw-mill jus' like he struts 'round wid another man's wife--jus' don't give a kitty. When Tes' Miller got cut to giblets on that circle-saw, Spunk steps right up and starts ridin'. The rest of us was skeered to go near it."
A round-shouldered figure in overalls much too large came nervously in the door and the talking ceased. The men looked at each other and winked.
"Gimme some soda-water. Sass'prilla Ah reckon," the newcomer ordered, and stood far down the counter near the open pickled pig-feet tub to drink it.
Elijah nudged Walter and turned with mock gravity to the new-comer.
"Say, Joe, how's everything up yo' way? How's yo' wife?"
Joe started and all but dropped the bottle he held in his hands. He swallowed several times painfully and his lips trembled.
"Aw 'Lige, you oughtn't to do nothin' like that," Walter grumbled. Elijah ignored him.
"She jus' passed heah a few minutes ago goin' thata way," with a wave of his hand in the direction of the woods.
Now Joe knew his wife had passed that way. He knew that the men lounging in the general store had seen her, moreover, he knew that the men knew he knew. He stood there silent for a long moment staring blankly, with his Adam's apple twitching nervously up and down his throat. One could actually see the pain he was suffering, his eyes, his face, his hands and even the dejected slump of his shoulders. He set the bottle down upon the counter. He didn't bang it, just eased it out of his hand silently and fiddled with his suspender buckle.
"Well, Ah'm goin' after her to-day. Ah'm goin' an fetch her back. Spunk's done gone too fur."
He reached deep down into his trouser pocket and drew out a hollow ground razor, large and shiny, and passed his moistened thumb back and forth over the edge.
"Talkin' like a man, Joe. 'Course that's yo' fambly affairs, but Ah like to see grit in anybody."
Joe Kanty laid down a nickel and stumbled out into the street.
Dusk crept in from the woods. Ike Clarke lit the swinging oil lamp that was almost immediately surrounded by candleflies. The men laughed boisterously behind Joe's back as they watched him shamble woodward.
"You oughtn't to said whut you did to him, Lige--look how it worked him up," Walter chided.
"And Ah hope it did work him up. Tain't even decent for a man to take and take like he do."
"Spunk will sho' kill him."
"Aw, Ah doan't know. You never kin tell. He might turn him up an' spank him fur gettin' in the way, but Spunk wouldn't shoot no unarmed man. Dat razor he carried outa heah ain't gonna run Spunk down an'cut him, an' Joe ain't got the nerve to go up to Spunk with it knowing he totes that Army .45. He makes that break outa heah to bluff us. He's gonna hide that razor behind the first palmetto root an' sneak back home to bed. Don't tell me nothin' 'bout that rabbit-foot colored man. Didn't he meet Spunk an' Lena face to face one day las' week an' mumble sumthin' to Spunk 'bout lettin' his wife alone?"
"What did Spunk say?" Walter broke in--"Ah like him fine but tain't right the way he carries on wid Lena Kanty, jus' cause Joe's timid 'bout fightin'."
"You wrong theah, Walter. Tain't 'cause Joe's timid at all, it's 'cause Spunk wants Lena. If Joe was a passle of wile cats Spunk would tackle the job just the same. He'd go after anything he wanted the same way. As Ah wuz sayin' a minute ago, he tole Joe right to his face that Lena was his. 'Call her and see if she'll come. A woman knows her boss an' she answers when he calls.' 'Lena, ain't I yo' husband?' Joe sorter whines out. Lena looked at him real disgusted but she don't answer and she don't move outa her tracks. Then Spunk reaches out an' takes hold of her arm an' says: 'Lena, youse mine. From now on ah works for you an' fights for you an' Ah never wants you to look to nobody for a crumb of bread, a stitch of close or a shingle to go over yo' head, but me long as Ah live. Ah'll git the lumber foh owah house to-morrow. Go home an' git yo' things together!' 'Thass mah house,' Lena speaks up. 'Papa gimme that.' 'Well,' says Spunk, 'doan give up whut's yours, but when youse inside doan forgit youse mine, an' let no other man git outa his place wid you!"'
"Lena looked up at him with her eyes so full of love that they wuz runnin' over, an' Spunk seen it an' Joe seen it too, and his lip started to tremblin' and his Adam's apple was galloping up and down his neck like a race horse. Ah bet he's wore out half a dozen Adam's apples since Spunk's been on the job with Lena. That's all he'll do. He'll be back heah after while swallowin' en' workin' his lips like he wants to say somethin' an' can't."
"But didn't he do nothin' to stop 'em?"
"Nope, not a frazzlin'' thing--jus'' stood there. Spunk took Lena's arm and walked off jus' like nothin' ain't happened and he stood there gazin' after them till they was outa sight. Now you know a woman don't want no man like that. I'm jus' waitin' to see whut he's goin' to say when he gits back."
- 1 16-ounce package frozen corn
- 2 tablespoons garlic-flavor oil
- 2 cups fat-free or reduced-fat milk
- 6 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 medium green onions, sliced (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 medium red sweet pepper, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
- 2 medium Anaheim or New Mexico green chili peppers, roasted, peeled, and chopped, or two 4-1/2-ounce cans green chili peppers, drained
- 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar or smoked cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
- 8 ounces smoked turkey breast, chopped (1-3/4 cups)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
- 2 to 3 small tomato wedges and sprigs of fresh cilantro (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Place corn and garlic-flavor oil in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; stir to evenly coat corn with oil. Roast in a 375 degree F oven for 35 minutes or until lightly golden, stirring occasionally. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 2-quart baking dish. Transfer 1/2 cup of the roasted corn to a blender container. Add milk, eggs, and flour; cover and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a large bowl. Add remaining roasted corn, green onions, sweet pepper, chili peppers, cheese, turkey, sugar, hot pepper sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stir to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Place dish in a larger roasting pan; place roasting pan on oven rack. Pour boiling water into larger pan to a depth of 1 inch.
- Bake in the 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Garnish with tomato and cilantro, if desired. Makes 10 servings.
- Make-Ahead Tip: Refrigerate roasted corn in an airtight container up to 3 days.