The Meal That Never Was

Reverend, civil rights leader, activist for peace,  husband, father, legend- the man Martin Luther King Jr. Today is one that celebrates him. As I thought of the ways that I could celebrate him on the Tip of the Tongue, I remembered that last facet of his identity- man. Like the rest of humankind, he had to eat. To have the energy with which he preached or the strength with which he marched, he ate, and enjoyed eating. Like many other civil rights leaders, he occasionally discussed the direction of the movement around a table with Southern comfort foods- fried chicken, greens, pie, corn bread!
I had the privilege of working at one such restaurant. After graduating highschool, I worked at Paschal’s Southern Cuisine in Atlanta, Georgia, launched by brothers James and Robert Paschal in 1947 on a street now named Martin Luther King Dr. One day, in the 1960’s, Dr. King offered the brothers a share in the Civil Rights heritage. “[King] came directly to us and asked if he could bring his team members and guests to Paschal’s to eat, meet, rest, plan and strategize. How could we refuse? We had the resources and the place. We believed we had been called to be part of the Movement,” writes James Paschal in his memoir Paschal: Living the Dream.
What did the man who had the dream feast on though? A survey of articles will of course mention the expected Southern foods, but one suggests that his favorites were fried chicken, candied yams, and pecan pie. I could go for some right now! If you happen to be in Harlem, I know where you can find some; Marcus Samuelson’s Red Rooster is serving a meal designed in tribute to the Dr. The Meal That Never Was shall be. Executive Chef Richard King of Red Rooster (ironic right?), in his research for the menu, learned that on the night of the assassination, Dr.King was scheduled to eat dinner at the house of Rev. Billy Kyle. But in leaving for the dinner, a bullet had cancelled his reservation. The Red Rooster MLK menu will allow diners to come the table, albeit refined and embellished, to have the meal in Dr. King’s memory.

Featured items include

  • “All-Benny” Fried Chicken
  • Roasted Sweet Yams
  • Lard Biscuits
  • Chocolate Pecan Pie with Bourbon Ice Cream
Check out the following links that fueled this post!
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