At Hal's, a brasserie with few pretensions but a hip ambience and lots of regular customers, Angelou orders green salad and roasted chicken. Before she lifts her fork, she pauses for a silent prayer, so brief that her lunch partner continues to chatter away.
"It stops everything for a moment and reminds me that I am about to eat something wonderful and I'm blessed to have it because there are so many people in the world who do not have it. It allows me to say thank you.
"I've lived in varying places in the world, and when I come home and see the reckless abandon we display with our largess, I'm so sorry. We don't approach food with the respect that it deserves," says Angelou.
At her own dinner table, Angelou refuses to tolerate such attitudes. Anyone with a lack of appreciation for the food and the joyful spirit of the meal is handed his coat and shown the door.
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Servings: 8 to 10
Note: Adapted from "Hallelujah! The Welcome Table," by Maya
1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
1. Heat the sugar in a heavy skillet over low heat. Stir constantly until it is melted to a brown liquid. When it bubbles over its entire surface, about 20 minutes, remove from the heat.
2. Slowly add the boiling water, stirring constantly. Pour into a container and cool. Use one-fourth cup for the cake; save the rest for another use.
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus
1 tablespoon butter