Chef Boy

by Shamethia Webb

I’m not the best cook.

But the spreads I prepare for my niece and nephews–age eight, nine, and 11—are palatable enough I suppose.

I’ve been told I’m the best cook in the world (This from a nephew who likes to put mustard on his black beans).

And that I season “fantabulously,” a portmanteau of the words fantastic and fabulous. (High praise from a budding pre-teen).

I’ve even managed to make spinach—the superfood that most resembles tree leaves and that’s appearance on dinner plates have prompted my nephews to accuse me of trying to feed them yard waste—a welcome addition to entrees.

I’m not the best cook, but I know how to prepare flavorsome and filling meals that will satisfy persnickety adolescent palates.

grill for blogAnd every now and then—buoyed by an energetic, “You’re an awesome cook Auntie!”, I’ll wheel out my miniature barbecue pit (“Napoleon”), stack charcoal in the adult version of Lego-building, and prepare to show the entire neighborhood that I am, at the very least, a mediocre chef.

The barbecue must smell appetizing enough since, without fail, at least half a dozen of my niece and nephew’s friends from the neighborhood turn up hoping to be offered a plate.

And the reader could assume that this is where the account of food insecurity would begin. That I would begin detailing how I had to feed ten or so children with two loaves of bread and barbecued chicken.

But s/he would be wrong.

These were kids I knew from my neighborhood. Most of them weren’t food insecure. Just wanted a chargrilled substitute for the meal that was being offered at home. Nope, no multitude of hungry kids to describe.

But there was one little boy, maybe six, whom I didn’t know. He was visiting the neighborhood. A distant relative. Someone’s cousin.

And he stood and watched as I prepared the grill and gathered materials. Even when the other kids grew bored and ran off to play, he stayed and observed as I began adding meat to the pit.

He was fairly quiet until I added hamburger patties to the pit. He perked up, piped out:

I’ve cooked that before!

I was confused.


I’ve cooked that before. That meat.

This hamburger meat?

Yes. I’ve cooked it.

You saw someone cook it?

He gave me one of those exasperated looks young children often levy at clueless adults.

I cooked it.

When I could only stare at him blankly, he explained.

He shared that he’d taken a pound of ground beef and cooked it in the microwave one day when he was hungry.

He seemed proud that he was able to accomplish such a complicated task but admitted that he was disappointed that the microwaved meat didn’t taste as good he he’d hoped.

I’ll have to season more better next time, he concluded.

He encouraged me to season my barbecue before being distracted by a developing game of football and wandering off.

I was stunned.

I’m not the best cook.

But six year olds?

They’re not the best cooks either.

Today’s blog post is by Shamethia Webb, Regional Director of the Texas Hunger Initiative.  If you would like to get in touch with Shamethia to learn more about the Texas Hunger Initiative, email her at [email protected].  If you would be interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email [email protected].


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