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Articles / Great Food, Big Love

Great Food, Big Love

Published June 7, 2022

A conversation with the tireless Miss Emily Meggett

“My interest is in people. In love. In care. And I said, my children were my priority. I said if I can take care of them, then I’d be able to take care of others out there in the world. I said, I’m never too tired, especially if someone says they’re hungry.”

I got to talk to the inimitable Emily Meggett for this week’s episode of Food with Mark Bittman — Miss Emily, as she’s known to some — along with Kayla Stewart, whom many of you are familiar with, who is wonderful and writes for us regularly. (Kayla is the co-writer on Miss Emily’s new book, Gullah Geechee Home Cooking.)

Miss Emily is 89 years old. She is the matriarch of the Gullah community on Edisto Island in South Carolina — 42 miles south of Charleston and home to just 2000 people — and grew up in a house with her grandmother, uncle and aunt, sister, and seven cousins. I really loved reading about her upbringing and how she learned to cook, but I loved talking with her even more.

“When I really learned how to cook,” she told me, “the lady that taught me said that if I didn’t do it right, she’d throw it out and I’d have to do it over. She said you do it until you get it right, and I got it right.”

I’ll say.

Please listen, subscribe, and review. And we’d love to hear your food-related questions, as we’d like to start doing live Q&A: Email us: food@markbittman.com. The recipe featured in this week’s episode is below.

Thank you, as always. — Mark

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Shrimp and Macaroni Salad

Serves 8 to 10

One day, I wanted to make a seafood dish but realized I didn’t have enough shrimp. Instead of letting the shrimp go to waste, I cooked a few macaroni noodles, put the two together, and created a salad that my children loved. This dish comes together quickly, and you can serve it warm or cold with a green salad and hot biscuits. — Gullah Geechee Home Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds (910 g) shrimp, preferably small

  • 1 (16-ounce/455 g) box macaroni noodles, cooked according to package instructions

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped

  • 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

  • 1 cup (100 g) diced celery

  • 1 cup (240 ml) Hellmann’s mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons mustard

  • 2 teaspoons celery salt

Instructions

Peel, wash, and devein the shrimp. Remove the tails.

In a 4-quart (3.8 L) saucepan, bring 3 cups (720 ml) tepid water to a boil and add the shrimp; cook until pink and opaque throughout, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the macaroni, shrimp, eggs, relish, and celery. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, and celery salt and mix again. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator and serve cold.

— Recipe from Gullah Geechee Home Cooking

Shrimp And Macaroni Salad
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