What were Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Favorite Foods: A Guide to...

What were Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Favorite Foods: A Guide to Celebrating his Birthday

photo by Kakie Urch

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Favorite Foods
A Guide to Celebrating His Birthday
by RL Reeves Jr.

How to honor the great man? This is what we pondered when it dawned on us that Martin Luther King Jr. day is celebrated this Monday.  We’re simple folk who like working with our hands so we decided to hit the kitchen to cook up some of Martin Luther King Jr’s favorite foods.

photo by Kakie Urch

This gave us a great excuse to settle back on the old Broyhill sofa and do some serious research on a menu. The internet offered a few million options and after a bit we found a wonderful article here in the Knoxville News Sentinel. We grew up reading this newspaper, because we were raised 80 miles from Knoxville, Tennessee and our granddad was a news junkie who devoured any print media you’d put in front of him.

During the course of the article, the author tours Martin Luther King Jr’s Atlanta birth home where we read the following; “Appliances and table settings reflect the 1930s and 1940s. A favorite meal was the Sunday feast of fried chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas and corn bread.”

The Doctor sounds like he was an eater after our own hearts as these are some of our very favorite foods.

Time to hit the kitchen.

Blackeyed peas can be one of the greatest southern foods you will ever be fortunate enough to put in your mouth. We make an insanely delicious version that is known as Hoppin’ John.

Growing up in Kentucky means you better have a good fried chicken recipe in your arsenal. This is one of the best ones we’ve ever implemented.

Collard greens is another southern staple. We’ve never penned a recipe, cause they are so easy to cook it’s just silly. First and most important, you’ll need a pint of pork stock. This is crucial. Here’s how we make it.

After you have your pork stock ready prep four bunches of collards by washing thoroughly and roughly chopping. Bring pint of pork stock to boil and place collards in kettle. Simmer with lid off til collards are done. You may like them al dente, but we like them “cooked down” which is to say extremely tender. By this time your stock should be almost completely evaporated. Add one cup whipping cream and 1 tablespoon dried red chile flakes to kettle. Cook 20 minutes more. You now have creamy, spicy collards that are so deliciously piggy they will turn even the most ardent hater of greens into a stark raving mad collard green addict.

Cornbread. Once again, we’ve never penned a corn bread recipe cause we can make a pone in our sleep. We’ve done it a thousand times. Here’s a quick primer. Take a cup of self rising corn meal. Add buttermilk til thick batter forms, now add tap water til batter is runny, pour into cold, greased (we use clarified bacon fat) cast iron pan, bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Now you have a southern feast that by any accounts would be a great way to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Bon Appetit Y’all.

These are the foods we grew up eating on the farm in Eastern Kentucky. They will nurture you and nourish your soul. Now it’s time to dig up our old pecan pie recipe as that was apparently Martin Luther King Jr’s favorite dessert of all time.

Kentucky native and Ace contributing food writer RL Reeves Jr blogs at scrumptiouschef.com. His forthcoming book is Eat Like a Turk in Istanbul.