Photo: Nina Williams-Mbengue (left) and Edna Lewis (right)
There are many lenses through which to look at the life of Edna Lewis. You can talk about her career as a chef, an author, a farmer, or an activist. But, first and foremost, she was a woman with loving friends and family. We wanted to know more about what Miss Edna was like on a personal level. Francis Lam was able to talk with Lewis's niece Nina Williams-Mbengue, who runs the Child Welfare Project at the National Conference of State Legislatures, about her Aunt Edna.
"She sensed the presence of all of her ancestors watching her, following her, and seeing what she was doing. I think that drove her. She never forgot how food tasted when she grew up, fresh out of the field and out of the farm. She never forgot walking along behind her father as he plowed the fields, getting ready to plant. And behind her mother in all the things that happened - all the celebrations they had. And I think that’s why she wrote the book the way that she did."
- Nina Williams-Mbengue on her aunt Edna Lewis's inspiration for her book, A Taste of Country Cooking.
Francis Lam is the host of The Splendid Table. He is the former Eat columnist for The New York Times Magazine and is Editor-at-Large at Clarkson Potter. He graduated first in his class at the Culinary Institute of America and has written for numerous publications. Lam lives with his family in New York City.