In the summertime of 1977, I used to be lastly sufficiently old to get my first job. My first actual job, that’s.

I imply the form of job the place you get a paycheck, as a substitute of a wadded up fistful of $1 payments, like Mrs. Bone at all times handed me after I mowed her yard. (A yard that appeared limitless and was full of magnolia bushes and crops I didn’t acknowledge.)

The form of job the place your pay got here after withholdings, which woke up me to issues resembling social safety, Medicare and Medicaid. Issues that till then had been simply phrases I heard as a substitute of {dollars} deducted.

It was the form of job the place I realized to make fried hen.

As my sophomore 12 months of highschool concluded, I needed a automobile. However vehicles price cash, and cash solely comes from one in every of two locations. Belief funds or jobs.

There was no belief fund, so a job it was.

Earlier than the proprietor of County Seat Fried Hen, a good friend of my dad and mom, supplied me a kitchen assistant place at $1.75 an hour, any work I had was no matter I hustled up alone.

I mowed many different yards apart from Mrs. Bone’s. I additionally raked leaves, washed vehicles, and break up and stacked wooden.

So, to have a job inside the place there was air-con and heating was a step in the suitable path so far as I used to be involved.

On my first day, I tied the apron the restaurant gave me round my then-130 pound body, placed on a paper hat, and waited for directions.

“Don’t simply stand there,” stated Ms. Bobbie. “Begin sweeping up this ground. This flour ain’t gonna sweep itself.”

Flour appeared to be in every single place, because it tends to be in a hen restaurant. Making hen rapidly causes flour to fly. That was acceptable to Ms. Bobbie. However flour couldn’t keep lengthy on the counter tops or ground. She didn’t settle for that.

No, Ms. Bobbie demanded a clear kitchen. All the time.

Ms. Bobbie labored there as the pinnacle prepare dinner, however she was clearly in cost. There was a supervisor, however even he listened to Ms. Bobbie.

All of us listened to her. She knew the right way to run a kitchen.

It was as if she had psychic talents.

“The place is the coleslaw?” she would say. “There can’t be not more than a scoop or two left on the road.”

I’d stroll across the nook, and positive sufficient, a server could be dishing up the final two scoops.

It appeared that Ms. Bobbie may see via partitions. She additionally may see right into a closed cooler.

On multiple event, she would instruct me to get extra thighs, breasts, legs or wings, batter them, and get them into one of many three fryers.

She additionally knew once we had been low on mashed potatoes, which tasted completely wonderful.

When she noticed me watching her make them, she stated, “Right here, you’ll want to learn to make my mashed potatoes. Go get a sack of them taters and convey ‘em to the sink. You peel all of ‘em after which fill this pot with water and add a handful of salt, then boil ‘em up.”

“Until they’re achieved,” she replied.

She then confirmed me the right quantities of butter, heavy cream, pepper, and chives so as to add as I combined all of them collectively.

Oh, my gosh, they had been wonderful. Every little thing tasted wonderful.

Every menu merchandise at County Seat Fried Hen was created from scratch.

You may’t go fallacious with Southern meals created from scratch.

Ms. Bobbie didn’t have something written down. It was all in her head. And her head should’ve been full. She may prepare dinner something to perfection.

Even inexperienced beans. I didn’t even like inexperienced beans once I went to work there, however I favored hers.

If there was a universally beloved merchandise on the menu, it was the peach cobbler. How anybody may take contemporary peaches, flour, sugar, butter, and milk and switch it into that stage of peach cobbler perfection nonetheless eludes me.

Ms. Bobbie taught me to make her hen, inexperienced beans, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw, however I by no means mastered her peach cobbler.

If I’ve one culinary remorse, it might be that I didn’t attempt to get that cobbler recipe perfected.

I labored there for a couple of 12 months earlier than extra hours on the Piggly Wiggly wooed me away from the restaurant.

Grocery shops are monotonous. You unload a truck, stamp costs on cans and different objects, after which put them on cabinets. You perform groceries. You then do all of it once more.

Working in a restaurant was among the finest jobs I ever had. The brevity of the expertise looks as if only a wisp of time in my profession, however what I realized has been parlayed into different cooking processes.

Making ready meals is systematic. It’s self-discipline. And if you recognize what you’re doing, the outcomes make you fairly in style.

County Seat Fried Hen closed shortly after I left for school. It grew to become a financial institution, and later a present store that hosted one in every of e book signings a couple of years in the past.

I misplaced observe of Ms. Bobbie. I want I’d saved up together with her. I’d like to inform her that what she taught me, I nonetheless have. And I’m parlaying that into studying extra about cooking.

My copy of Julia Youngster’s “Mastering the Artwork of French Cooking” arrived this week. It’s a bit of extra advanced than mash potatoes and peach cobbler.

However I don’t suppose I might have even tried something on this cookbook if it hadn’t been for one girl who took the time to show a thin 15-year-old child.

Thanks, Ms. Bobbie. And bon appétit.

— John Moore is a Whitehouse resident. E-mail him at To purchase his e book, “Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2,” or to take heed to his weekly John G. Moore 5-Minute Podcast, go to

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